The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, representing two groups of states, will get $330 million in federal grants over the next four years to develop new assessments to match the Common Core Standards.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the new tests will “measure real student knowledge and skills,” instead of pressuring teachers “to teach to a test that doesn’t measure what really matters.”
Which group will provide the best test? Will the new assessments live up to expectations?
On National Journal’s Education Experts, Fair Test’s Monty Neill says the two group’s proposals are similar. Both create a few tests, but not an assessment system with multiple measures of student performance. Both rely on testing technology that “is not likely to be ready for prime time by 2014.”
The winners aren’t visionary enough, responds Tom Vander Ark.
Rather than “what’s the best common assessment system?” they should be working on “what’s the best sequence of learning experiences for an individual student?” And, “how do we build a flexible framework that can incorporate lots of assessment data from a variety of sources?” The comparability of common formative assessments is great, but the lockstep application forces standardization. I’d much rather see a marketplace of powerful instructional systems that invisibly embed assessment. Folks will try to work within these testing systems, but I don’t think either will fully harness the power of content-embedded assessment (which is likely to be the most important capability to be developed over the next five years). Assessment that counts for anything will, for another decade, remain outside the instructional experience — and that is unfortunate.
Until we get new, superior tests, we need a moratorium on high-stakes testing, argues Diane Ravitch, joined by Neill.