Exposing the imbalance in ‘balanced assessment’

There are three elements to ‘balanced assessment,’ but W. James Popham argues that only two deserve their place

IT IS DIFFICULT TO ATTEND any sort of assessment-relevant educational conference these days without hearing someone extol the virtues of “balanced assessment.” In the U.S., what’s typically being described by the proponents of balanced assessment is the application of three distinctive measurement strategies: classroom assessments; interim assessments; and large-scale assessments.

What we know
● Classroom formative assessment works well, and the process can be successfully used by classroom teachers in diverse ways.
● Society now demands evidence from large-scale accountability tests to evaluate the success of tax-supported schooling.
● Interim assessments, at the moment, are supported neither by research evidence nor by a societal demand.

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June 2011