Common Core State Standards Assessments: Challenges and Opportunities

Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, examines the opportunities and challenges that educators face with assessments based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). There are potential benefits to the CCSS and assessments, such as improved instruction and, subsequently, improved student learning. However, there are a number of likely challenges to the new standards and assessment systems. This report outlines some of these key challenges and offers suggestions for state and federal policymakers to mitigate them. The assessment challenges addressed in this paper pertain to the following seven areas: higher proficiency levels, technology upgrades, computer scoring, content coverage, time investments, validating uses for expanded evaluation, and roll-out coherence.

Content Comments 

The purposes of this article are well-described and effectively met, supported by strong research, a fair and balanced viewpoint, high accuracy, plausibility, and value. Communications quality is excellent including organization, topics covered, length, and visual design. This a must-read article, as it succinctly but effectively covers issues that are critical to the successful implementation of the new assessments to measure the Common Core State Standards. Another benefit is its recent publication date and the authors inclusion of current information such as the states participating in the Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments as of April 2014. Utility is potentially very high, especially for policymakers, assessment developers, and virtually anyone involved or interested in educational accountability. Although one cannot claim that this article itself has strong evidence of effectiveness, its underlying strengths suggest a very likely impact on learning.