Do we need an assessment overhaul?

Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins suggest a different approach to measuring students’ progress

THE EMERGENCE OF the new Common Core Standards presents an opportunity to re-examine the current system of educational assessments in the U.S. For the past 10 years, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal statute has required annual state testing as a means of gauging student achievement. Publishing these test scores establishes accountability, comparing schools and districts, and resulting in consequences for schools that fail to achieve “annual yearly progress” quotas. Responsible educators understand the need for accountability and the NCLB testing program has revealed achievement deficiencies that demand to be addressed. Nonetheless, the present assessment system is flawed, and ironically may impede the very efforts needed to attain important educational goals.

What we know
● Current standardized assessments do not adequately assess many of the most valued goals of schooling.
● A better “multiple measures” approach would include contentspecific tests; a series of contentspecific and interdisciplinary performance tasks; and a local assessment component.
● This would help schools to test what they teach, rather than teaching to the test.

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June 2011