The recent teacher-led boycott of the MAP test in Seattle has triggered a long-overdue national dialogue over the quality of student assessments. Any teacher will tell you – well-designed assessment systems can play a critical role in helping them improve their practice and student achievement. But too many assessments fall far short of the mark, inaccurately measuring student knowledge and taking precious time away from regular instruction.
A major glitch in the development of these assessments is the absence of educators’ voice. Teachers in the classroom have a clear view about what it would take to design the ideal assessments and they must be able share their expertise in designing systems that make sense to students, parents, educators, and communities.
That is why the National Education Association is encouraging teachers to visit Assessment Advisor, an online site that lets real teachers in real classrooms use star ratings to evaluate the teaching assessments they have used with their students, share the pros and cons of each one, and evaluate whether or not a particular assessment works.
NEA is partnering with Teach Plus, a national non-profit based in Boston whose mission is to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers.
“Teachers are deeply committed to student success and they know that testing is a great way to measure that success,” said National Education President Dennis Van Roekel. “But they want well-designed, timely assessments that monitor individual student performance and progress across a range of subjects and skills. For teachers, Assessment Advisor is a tool that allows them to share which ones work.”
The Assessment Advisor was the brainchild of a small group of teachers from urban school districts who shared a frustration at the lack of resources that would enable educators and policymakers to figure out what assessments worked best. In 2012, these teachers and Teach Plus developed and launched the Assessment Advisor to provide policymakers with these critical teacher perspectives.
“Five-star teaching requires five-star assessments,” said Teach Plus CEO and Founder Celine Coggins. “Teachers are becoming more and more data-savvy, and Assessment Advisor is a valuable new resource to help teachers find assessments to tailor instruction to their students’ needs.”
“Educators and students have a lot to gain if we can find out which existing assessments paint a real picture of today’s students’ success,” said Van Roekel. “Policymakers shouldn’t have to guess-and then learn through trial and lots of errors. And teachers should have a resource for finding assessments that will help them teach right now.”