From the Assessment OF Education to the Assessment FOR Education: Policy and Futures
by Eva L. Baker & Edmund W. Gordon - 2014
Context: Educational reform in the United States has had a growing dependence on accountability achieved through large-scale assessment. Despite discussion and advocacy for assessment purposes that would assist learning, provide help to teachers’ instructional plans and execution, and give a broader perspective of the depth and breadth of learning, the general focus still remains on accountability, now elaborated with sanctions for schools and personnel.
Focus of Study: To generate scholarly discussion, options for practice, and grounded predictions about testing in the next decades, the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education.
Participants: Convened over a two-year period and with 30 people on the steering committee, the commissioners included well-known scholars grounded in psychometrics, assessment design, technology, learning, instruction, language, subject matter, and teaching in discussion. Commissioners, additional authors, and reviewers were largely drawn from universities, private profit, and nonprofit institutions. Professor Edmund W. Gordon was the Chair of the Commission.
Design: A knowledge acquisition and synthesis study, the product design relied on papers authored by expert scholars describing their understanding of productive student testing in their own domains. The commission funded papers on a wide variety of topics. This paper focuses on two of the major topics of the reports, the emphasis on shifting assessment to help rather than simply to mark progress and how future contexts, including technological change, may impinge on testing options.
Conclusions: The paper calls for a transformation of assessment purpose and use, from annual, time-controlled accountability assessments to more continuous assessments used in the course of a learners’ acquisition of understanding, motivation for learning, collaboration, and deep application of knowledge in problem solving, communication, and authentic settings. Assessments should emphasize helping students of varying backgrounds and goals as well as their teachers. The role of technology as an assessment design, administration, and reporting toolset is described, in the context of changing knowledge expectations and a global competitive environment.
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