New student assessment inventory tool released by Achieve

Friday, June 6, 2014

Achieve today announced the launch of the Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts, a tool which will enable district leaders to take stock of how many assessments are administered throughout a school year and for what purposes they give assessments. Designed from a student perspective, the audit tool can be used by education leaders to make decisions about what amount of testing is appropriate and to be more transparent with parents about the testing in schools.

"We in Connecticut are proud to have helped pilot this tool, which will help our districts analyze and streamline the assessments that they're administering," said Stefan Pryor, Connecticut Commissioner of Education. "Given our transition to the new Common Core state standards, it's important that we enable schools to choose and use only those assessments that are aligned to these standards and are most useful to educators. Our dual goals are to decrease unnecessary testing and to increase instructional time."

Quality assessments are a critical component of improving college and career readiness in the United States. Educators rely upon consistent performance measures to monitor student progress and their own effectiveness. However, educators, parents, and students across the country have expressed concerns about the amount of time that testing is taking away from teaching and learning. School district officials have the opportunity to respond to these concerns about over-testing by leading a conversation among educators and the broader community that directly addresses the amount of testing and points the way toward a more coherent, educationally sound approach to assessment.

"This assessment inventory will guide district leaders through the review process to make certain that the tests they require are of value for teachers, students, and parents," said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve. "As many states transition to new Common Core-aligned tests designed to better measure content knowledge and critical thinking skills, it's a good time for districts to reassess their testing requirements as well. This tool will enable districts,; with their school leaders and teachers, to ensure that only high quality assessments that are valuable and necessary for student achievement are used. In many instances, this should result in fewer and better tests."

The Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts supports a process by which districts evaluate current assessments, determine the minimum testing necessary to serve essential diagnostic, instructional, and accountability purposes, and work to ensure that every district-mandated test is useful and of high quality. Assessment inventory and review allows districts to both streamline the amount of testing required and ensure that current assessments are supported by structures and routines that enable results to be used for improvement.

Usage of the Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts will also increase transparency between districts and the public regarding student assessment strategy and policies. "We encourage local leaders who use this tool to report the outcome of their project to parents and to the school board," Cohen said. "Which tests have been eliminated? How will the remaining tests be used, and why are they important?"

An initial draft tool was created earlier this year. That draft tool was shared with the Connecticut State Department of Education and leaders from eight Connecticut school districts that piloted use of the assessment inventory and provided substantial feedback.

The assessment inventory process is comprised of four stages: Reflect and Plan, Conduct the Inventory, Analyze the Inventory, and Make Recommendations. The tool contains an openly licensed Inventory Table that may be modified to suit the district's unique goals and context as well as guiding questions for planning, analysis, and recommendations.

The Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts is available on the Achieve website at: www.achieve.org/assessmentinventory.