The Devil Is In The Assessments | Teachers College Columbia University

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The Devil Is In The Assessments

The federal government has funded two consortia of states, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which currently are working to develop assessments geared to the Common Core. Those assessments, which for many people will be important indicators of whether the standards will truly augur a new era of deeper learning, will be unveiled during the 2014-2015 school year. Meanwhile a commission chaired by Edmund W. Gordon, TC’s Richard March Hoe Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education, has already warned that the potential of new assessments might not be reached if their purpose is solely to hold teachers and schools accountable for performance.

“The primary purpose of assessment ought to be to inform and improve teaching and learning,” said Gordon when the commission’s report was released in early March.

The report by the 30-member Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education, established by the Educational Testing Service, endorses the Common Core’s emphasis on competencies such as critical thinking and problem-solving, rather than on the rote recall of information and more basic skills.  But the Commission argued that in the past student assessments have over-emphasized accountability at the expense of fostering higher-order skills. The report called for “a national conversation about…the critical relationships among rigorous standards, curriculum, instruction and appropriate assessment.”

Published Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013