A New Era for Educational Assessment

From the abstract: "In this article, David Conley focuses on how to assess meaningful learning in ways that promote student achievement while simultaneously meeting system accountability needs. The article draws upon research that supports the notion that a major shift in educational assessment is needed in order to encourage and evaluate the kind of learning that enables success in college and careers. Conley presents his vision for a new system of assessments, one designed to support the kinds of ambitious teaching and learning that most parents say they want for their children. The article begins with a brief historical overview, describes where educational assessment appears to be headed in the near term, and then discusses some longer-term possibilities, concluding with a series of recommendations for how policymakers and practitioners can move toward a better model of assessment for teaching and learning."

Content Comments 

In this article, David Conley, a leading national education researcher, lays out a number of very broad tasks covering the recent history of assessment, a proposed multiple assessment model, and a series of policy recommendations. He accomplishes most of these tasks in good fashion. For example, he touches on the importance of measuring student motivation as well as student knowledge and skills. And his recommendations are solid. Recognizing that this is a theoretical article, I still would have appreciated evidence showing that multiple assessments convincingly produce a more accurate picture of student skills and learning than a single assessment would—a concept that underlies Conley's article. It is granted that they produce a deeper picture, but previous research generally indicates that high-achieving students perform better than lower-performing students on any assessment, whether it be multiple choice, short answer, performance, or a combination thereof. Also, assessment systems have validity issues not just tied to each component, but to the entire system itself, which I would like to have seen addressed in this article. Not only are many validity issues unknown, but administration time, scoring, and costs are often unknown. Despite some of my own personal concerns, this is an article worth reading.