As education in the United States shifts to emphasize the deeper learning approaches of the Common Core State Standards, states are evaluating how to move to new systems of assessment that can measure these more complex and comprehensive goals.
The report authored by David Conley and Linda Darling-Hammond — Creating Systems of Assessment for Deeper Learning — describes how state policymakers and education leaders can strategically design assessment and accountability systems in ways that support learning for students, educators, and systems, alike.
Drawing on research and successful practices in the United States and abroad, the report offers a blueprint for new systems of assessment that are able to support the development of deeper learning skills, to generate instructionally useful diagnostic information, and to provide insights about a wider range of student capacities that are actionable by students and inform parents, colleges, employers, and policymakers.
The report recommends that — as is common in many other countries — such systems should combine traditional "sit-down" tests with classroom-based performance assessments that allow students to demonstrate their abilities to design and conduct investigations, solve complex problems, and communicate in a variety of ways. Properly used, both assessments can serve formative as well as summative purposes. Student profiles that combine multiple sources of information can also help students guide and represent their learning to teachers, parents, colleges, and employers. New systems of school accountability should likewise offer a dashboard of information and use multiple measures appropriately to achieve key purposes—including allocating resources productively, informing instruction, and supporting teacher development and school capacity-building.
A new book, Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes, provides a powerful analysis of these different ends of an ideological spectrum – from market-based experiments to strong state investments in public education.