Assessment in Elementary and Secondary Education: A Primer

The following is a summary of this publication from the Congressional Research Service. 

"This report provides a framework for understanding various types of assessments that are administered in elementary and secondary schools. It broadly discusses various purposes of educational assessment and describe comprehensive assessment systems. Common assessment measures currently used in education are described, including state assessments, NAEP, and state exit exams. The report also provides a description and analysis of technical considerations in assessments, including validity, reliability, and fairness, and provide a discussion of how to use these technical considerations to draw appropriate conclusions based on assessment results. Additionally, innovation in assessment is discussed, including the development and use of alternate assessments and performance assessments. Finally, this report provides a brief analysis of the use of assessments in accountability systems, including implications for curriculum, students, and testing." 

Content Comments 

This Congressional Research Service report clearly states and meets its purposes, using high quality methods and well-recognized references. In addition to providing an exceptional overview of the various types, purposes, and uses of assessment, the author also includes a glossary of terms, a listing of common assessment acronyms, and a helpful overview of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment. Consequently this publication, although perhaps on the long side at 39 pages, should be highly useful to policymakers, educators, and the public who want to better understand assessment. The only downside is that it has not been updated and thus does not cover significant changes including the Common Core State Standards, consortia assessments, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. Nevertheless, it still covers the bases quite well, without bias. Communications quality is good, although writing is on the technical side and the design is basic. Although evidence of effectiveness is not described, the high overall quality suggests a potential impact on learning.