Interim Assessment

Interim assessments have a strong role in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA recognizes the importance of balanced assessment systems, the need for interim measures to monitor the progress of low performing schools, and the value of testing audits to improve system efficiency and effectiveness. ESSA also offers states the flexibility to “use a series of statewide interim assessments during the course of the academic year that result in a single summative assessment score” in place of a single annual test.

This collection reviews the literature on interim assessments for states, districts, and schools interested in using interim assessments to gauge student achievement of standards. (To read a written brief built on this collection, click here.)

Research on Effects on Student Learning

This sub-collection includes rigorous experimental research comparing learning in schools/classrooms using interim assessment to that in schools and classrooms that do not have access to district-wide interim tests. The collection also includes one large sample study of the relationship between the urban teachers’ and principals’ interim assessment use and student learning. In sum, the collected studies show mixed results, with some studies showing statistically significant positive effects, others showing no effect and only one instance of interim assessments being associated with a statistically significant negative effect (in grade K-2). A final study exemplifies the learning research that may support the use of interim test to increase learning. This laboratory research consistently shows that testing improves the subsequent learning of initially tested, textual material, and the study reports on five laboratory studies documenting interim testing positive effect on learning.

Guidance on Interim Assessment Adoption and Selection

This sub-collection includes resources that lay out issues that states, districts, and schools should consider before deciding to use interim assessments and criteria they should consider in selecting or developing specific interim assessment tools.

Guidance on Implementation

The articles in this sub-collection provide a comprehensive view of the components that need to be in place and processes enacted to support the use of interim assessment. The guidance below draws on both specific research on interim assessment and the more general data use literature. The bottom line from the research is that investment in interim assessments is not likely to bring substantial benefits for student learning unless there is concomitant investment in the human and organizational capital needed to well implement the assessments.