Digging Into the Standards: Assessment and the Common Core

Next Generation Assessment Systems

**Herman, J.L. (2011). Testing the tests: Accountability for serving intended purposes. Advancing Consortium Assessment Reform. Not available online.

To fulfill their promise of improving student learning, the author argues that next-generation assessments and scores must reflect the depth and breadth of the Common Core State Standards. Additionally they must be learning-based, accessible and fair, reliable and precise, comparable, and transferable and generalizable. Furthermore, the report argues that assessments should be designed appropriately for their intended use, which may vary for formative, interim, through-course, or summative assessments. Finally, supports for users should accompany any new assessment system. Given the tensions and challenges these priorities introduce, the author concludes with a set of recommendations for developing effective assessment systems.

**Linquanti, R. (2011). Strengthening assessment for English learner success: How can the promise of the Common Core Standards and innovative assessment systems be realized? In Policy Analysis for California Education and Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy (Ed). The road ahead for state assessments (pp.13-25). Cambridge, MA: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy. Available at http://www.ocde.us/CommonCoreCA/Documents/Road_ahead_for%20State%20Assessments_May_2011_Renniecenterforeducationresearchpolicy.pdf

This paper highlights critical issues in assessing English learners (ELs), including ensuring assessments accurately measure ELs’ mastery of academic content and not their mastery of the English language. The author stresses that in order to measure ELs’ content knowledge, the development of assessment item banks and tasks, professional development, and technical support programs must take into account English language proficiency levels and be grounded in a clear understanding of the EL population. For example, a computer-adaptive test may underestimate an EL’s content knowledge if they answer a question incorrectly due to the item’s linguistic complexity or a through-course assessment may misrepresent an EL’s results if it is weighted more at the beginning of the academic year (when their language mastery was less developed).

Pitoniak, M. J., Young, J. W., Martiniello, M., King, T. C., Buteux, A., & Ginsburgh, M. (2009). Guidelines for the assessment of English language learners. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service (ETS). Available at http://www.ets.org/Media/About_ETS/pdf/ELL_Guidelines.pdf

This guide, one in a series of publications by ETS that address issues related to fairness and equity in testing, provides recommendations for the assessment of ELs in academic content areas. The guidelines are designed to address challenges of validity by assisting practitioners in assessing students’ mastery of subject matter while minimizing the role of the student’s English proficiency in its measurement. The authors provide definitions of key terms and a discussion of factors that can influence the assessment of ELs. They conclude by providing recommendations on a variety of assessment issues regarding ELs, including the development of assessment specifications and items, reviewing and field testing items, scoring of constructed responses, test administration,
testing accommodations, and the use of statistics to evaluate the assessment and scoring.

Reckase, M. (2011). Computerized adaptive assessment (CAA): The way forward. In Policy Analysis for California Education and Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy (Eds.), The road ahead for state assessments (pp. 1-12). MA: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy. Available at http://www.ocde.us/CommonCoreCA/Documents/Road_ahead_for%20State%20Assessments_May_2011_Renniecenterforeducationresearchpolicy.pdf

This article explores the costs and benefits of computer adaptive assessment (CAA). In contrast to traditional fixed tests, CAAs adapt test items to the characteristics of the individual examinees. The author first describes costs associated with CAA, including the time and money required for item pool development, computer access, administration software, and long-term implementation. The authors argues that the benefits of CAA, if successfully developed and implemented, include improved testing efficiency and the ability to assess student performance at all points of the achievement continuum. The author concludes with recommendations for developing a CAA.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Performance counts: Assessment systems that support high-quality learning. Washington, DC: The Council of Chief State School Officers. Available at http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2010/Performance_Counts_Assessment_Systems_2010.pdf

This article provides a blueprint for developing a high-quality student assessment system aimed at informing instruction, determining progress, measuring achievement, and providing accountability. Successful practices suggest, the author argues, that an effective assessment system should be grounded in standards-based curriculum and draw upon multiple measures to evaluate student knowledge and skills. States should assume a leadership role in developing common standards and assessments, that districts and schools should develop and adapt curriculum and instructional materials as necessary, and that the federal government should provide guidance, research, legislation and funding that support efforts to improve the national education system.

Jerald, C., Doorey, A. & Forgione, P. (2011, May). Putting the pieces together: Summary report of invitational research symposium on through-course summative assessments. Princeton, NJ: Center for K-12 Assessment & Performance Management at ETS. Available at http://www.k12center.org/rsc/pdf/TCSA_Symposium_Final_Summary.pdf.

This report summarizes presentations and discussions that occurred at a February 2011 symposium on through-
course summative assessments. Rather than administer lengthy summative tests near the end of each year, through-course assessments takes place on a regular basis and combine results at the end of the year to determine a student’s final score. The redesigned assessments are meant to allow teachers to make more curricular decisions based on regularly-available student-level assessment data. The symposium focused on benefits and challenges connected to designing, developing, and implementing through-course summative assessments. Participants emphasized assessment results must be reliable, valid, and easy to use for instructional decision-making.

**This document is considered a priority reading.