Each district should implement a comprehensive assessment system that is aligned with the district’s vision for teaching and learning. Assessments should include formative, interim, and summative assessments. Instant feedback from ongoing embedded assessments—including, but not limited to, portfolios, capstone projects, performance-based assessments, and curriculum-embedded assessments—should be used to monitor student progress and adjust day-to-day learning activities. Summative assessments should be offered multiple times a year, when students are ready to take the exam, and students should have multiple opportunities to show mastery of the assessment.
While few of the practitioners we interviewed while researching this paper called it out explicitly, many of the ideas that emerged from the interviews reflect the intent of a comprehensive assessment system. A theme from the research was the significance of collecting, and responding to data, in order to craft a personalized education for each student. The teachers we spoke to emphasized the importance of leveraging frequent, embedded student assessments that are closely aligned to instruction so that results can quickly translate into supports for students. Teachers also spoke of demonstrating the purpose of assessments, creating an understanding among students and parents of the need such assessments.
While the role of end-of-year summative assessments are still prevalent in a personalized learning system, many teachers talked about the importance of de-emphasizing the punitive nature of these assessments. Instead, these teachers focus on the use of embedded, formative assessments to drive instruction, secure in the knowledge that this will lead to better student performance on standardized, summative assessments.
For more on implementing a comprehensive assessment system in a personalized learning environment, including interview excerpt and school and district examples, you can read the full paper here.