Interim Assessments: Keys to Successful Implementation

This brief is based on New Leaders for New Schools research and considers the potential and challenges of implementing interim assessments. The heart of the document is its list of 23 conditions the author considers important for successful implementation that will support student learning. These conditions are organized into four categories: antecedents that lay a foundation for success; the nature of the test themselves; analysis and meaning-making options; and action taken based on results.

1) Antecedents – Laying the Foundations for Success

  1. ​Teacher understanding and trust
  2. Clear grade-by-grade learning expectations in every teacher's hands
  3. Exemplars of proficient student work
  4. Assessments common across each grade and course
  5. Assessments given at least quarterly
  6. Assessments given at all grade levels

2) Assessments - Creating Highly Informative Tests

  1. Alignment with state tests and college-ready expectations
  2. Alignment with the curriculum sequence
  3. Thorough but not overwhelming
  4. High-quality test items
  5. Diagnostic
  6. Cumulative/year-end metric
  7. Solving the reading dilemma 

3) Analysis – Scoring and Making Meaning of the Tests ​

  1. User-friendly data display
  2. Teacher scoring and analysis
  3. Rapid turnaround
  4. Team data meetings
  5. Support and direction for teacher teams
  6. SMART goals

4) Action – Putting Interim Assessment Data to Work

  1. Follow-up with students
  2. Enlisting students in their own improvement
  3. Information for parents and other helpers
  4. Monitoring and follow-up by the principal 
Content Comments 

The author provides her views of the priority importance of each of these conditions for supporting student achievement and scoring system for evaluating existing systems based on these categories. Those with responsibility for implementing interim systems also may want to consider which of these conditions are important for selecting or developing the assessments (including what reports and training are available at what cost) versus those which imply essential, local infrastructure and policies and practices that need to be in place to support (for example, building trust, establishing structures, incentives, and protocols for data team meetings; communicating with parents), as well as who is responsible for each.