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Providing educators a comprehensive view of student achievement

A holistic assessment strategy gives the portfolio view of student performance

Talk about solutions that help educators understand the whole student.

When it comes to solutions that are focused on the whole student, they have to provide variability and flexibility. To provide assistance, and get a full picture of a student, educators must be able to evaluate a variety of content: core subjects, non-core subjects and career and technical education, etc. To get the most accurate measure, they also need the flexibility to evaluate students in different ways, such as traditional multiple-choice questions, constructed response questions and innovative item types. Educators can also use performance-based tasks, practical exams and surveys that provide students different ways to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities.

Using multiple points of data that come from a variety of assessment, as well as students’ grades, attendance, discipline and extracurricular activities contribute to an overall perspective that is more accurately representative of students. Also, dynamic reporting and analytics provide educators a more holistic picture of student performance.

How can a balanced assessment solution support a holistic assessment strategy?

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, educators and administrators were focused on a snapshot of student performance. But as we all know, one picture does not provide an accurate portrayal of a student, teacher or school. A balanced assessment solution shows a variety of snapshots. Those different data points offer educators valuable information about a student’s educational journey and where they might need help along the way. A holistic assessment strategy has to be about more than one snapshot. It should provide a portfolio view with many pictures of student performance. 

How does a deep connection between test results and skills/standards help teachers adjust instruction?

I am an assessment person, but I will be the first person to say that assessment simply for assessment’s sake is not helpful to anyone. Assessments are only useful if they provide meaningful data that drives instruction. Assessments tied to skills and standards deliver precise information to educators about how they can target classroom instruction, where they may need to make shifts or enhancements in their approach, or where remediation may be required for certain students. Information on specific skills and standards also helps educators place students in cooperative groups for shared learning or alert them when they need to individualize their instructional approach.

What can it mean to educators, particularly under the Every Student Succeeds Act, to be able to identify achievement gaps? 

Educators have an incredibly tough job with limited time and resources. Identifying individual achievement gaps for every student in a classroom is a huge task. Under No Child Left Behind, the pressure was to identify those gaps in a limited set of core areas, subjects and grades. Under ESSA, there is an expanded focus. That means there is increasing pressure for educators to identify gaps in core subjects, non-core subjects, college and career readiness, and career and technical education.

As measures of success for students evolve and change, the tools available to educators and students have to as well. Assessments, data programs, and tools for educators need to allow evaluation and intuitive reporting across multiple measures. If we do not provide these tools to educators and administrators, we are creating an even more significant and unnecessary burden. It is our responsibility to give them the right tools and our privilege to help ensure that portfolios of student performance include all of the right pictures.