The cancellation of summative assessments in the spring of 2020 coupled with the variability of the spring 2021 testing season has significantly impacted the K–12 assessment landscape, making formative and frequent checks for understanding an educators’ main line of sight into what students know and don’t know. Though formative assessments have proven instrumental in addressing learning gaps related to school closures, the need for accountability testing has not gone away. At its core, accountability testing exists to ensure every student receives a high-quality education. However, its standardized approach has made it difficult for teachers to quickly address learning needs and adjust instruction to improve student outcomes. As schools and districts prepare for the future of assessment, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Assessments Should be Part of the Learning Process
For years, summative assessments have been disruptive to the learning process. Students, teachers, and administrators alike feel the pressure to prepare students to perform in a high-stakes assessment environment. End-of-year assessments place a heavy burden on teachers to prepare students for the length and duration of these assessments, which can take away from the work they are doing every day to gauge standards mastery and personalize learning. These challenges have led a few states to begin to explore innovative assessment models that enable teachers to use shorter, standards-based assessments throughout the academic year to gauge student mastery with the same rigor as summative assessments. This fundamental shift allows teachers to maintain a line of sight into what students know and don’t know throughout the year and relieves the pressure of predicting performance.
Assessments Must be Valid & Reliable
To ensure assessments are valid (accurate) and reliable (consistent) assessment items must be tightly aligned to a set of standards so educators get the information they need to best determine which students need

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