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Aurora Institute

New iNACOL Issue Brief: Redesigning Systems of Assessments for Student-Centered Learning

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Susan Patrick, Dale Frost, Maria Worthen

Issue(s): State Policy, Build Balanced Systems of Assessments

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states now have increased flexibility to redesign their systems of assessments to better align to student-centered learning, allowing educators to focus on meeting students where they are so all can flourish.

iNACOL has released a new issue brief, Redesigning Systems of Assessments for Student-Centered Learning, which explores opportunities for states under ESSA to redesign systems of assessments. The issue brief provides recommendations for state policymakers who are ready to support and enable student-centered teaching and learning.

Assessment is essential for understanding what students have learned and for providing transparency and fairness when it comes to certifying mastery of knowledge and skills. Assessment can provide timely feedback to educators on where students are in their learning and to inform the supports that they need to succeed. In redesigning systems of assessments, state policymakers should consider what is needed to make assessment more meaningful and integrally linked to student learning.

There is a need to rethink the purpose and role of assessment in education systems. Systems of assessments that align to student-centered learning are important for the transformation to personalized, competency-based education systems that prepare all students for success. In addition, this brief introduces balanced systems of assessments and assessment literacy as two key concepts required for long-term sustainable systems transformation toward student-centered learning.

The challenge ahead for policymakers is to reshape policies to enable student-centered teaching and learning. This will require creating balanced systems of assessments focused on students demonstrating mastery through authentic performance and creating evidence to:

  • Support individual student learning and achievement outcomes that matter;
  • Empower educators to facilitate student progress, deeper learning and growth toward a new, more comprehensive definition of success;
  • Provide feedback on depth and breadth of learning, as well as progress;
  • Provide timely supports;
  • Support a personalized, competency-based system which recognizes that students can learn anytime and everywhere; and
  • Serve as an equitable and transparent mechanism to certify student mastery of the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

Redefining Success for Meaningful Outcomes

A key consideration for next generation systems of assessments is how to support the development of the full range of knowledge and skills that students need to succeed in college, career and civic life. It will be important for state leaders to engage with stakeholders to create new definitions of student success that reflect more holistic outcomes for graduation. A new definition of success can provide a helpful foundation for developing graduate profiles that encompass necessary outcomes for meaningful diplomas. Graduate profiles should include mastery of content knowledge as well as skills needed for success in the workplace and civic life, such as: communication, collaboration, problem solving and social emotional intelligence. As states begin to address a more holistic vision of student success, assessment models need to align to provide valuable feedback throughout the process of teaching and learning that is meaningful for students, as well as provide transparency on attainment.

For more information, download the iNACOL issue brief, Redesigning Systems of Assessments for Student-Centered Learning.

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