The effort to develop a new assessment system is the subject of a commentary by Robert Rothman:
Is testing a waste of time? Teachers seem to think so. In a 2006 survey, 71 percent of them said that students took too many standardized tests, and 62 percent called testing a “necessary evil.”
Yet when Oregon introduced its online testing system, which allows students to take the tests up to three times a year, teachers embraced it. They apparently did not think the testing burden was either excessive or evil.
Why? Because the Oregon test delivers near-instantaneous results that show teachers how students perform on particular content strands, such as geometry or measurement.
To envision how such a system might shift school practice, consider what has happened in the retail industry. In the past, retail stores would close their doors for a day each year to take inventory. Now, thanks to the accurate and instantaneous information bar codes allow, retailers can keep track of their inventory in real time, 365 days a year. This is not to say that students are commercial products, or that we want to slap bar codes on their foreheads. But a comprehensive assessment system could provide continuous, coherent, and high-quality information on student performance that teachers, school leaders, and district and state administrators could use to improve teaching and learning.
In such a system, assessment is neither excessive nor evil. Nor is it a waste of time. On the contrary, assessment—and the information it provides—is a vital tool to improve instruction, learning, and school practice.
This bar code theory of assessment (sorry – can’t shake the image) surely could be continuous, but, can it be coherent and high quality? Think about how your kids are maturing and how they learn?