Building Local Assessment Systems

K-12 Testing

The Southern Maine Partnership has published a valuable manual, CLASs Primer: A Guide for Comprehensive Local Assessment Systems Design and Use. The goal is to ensure that assessment is used to provide high-quality education rather than reduce schooling to standardized learning and testing for sorting and reporting. The Partnership includes local districts and the University of Southern Maine.


Maine requires districts to develop local K-12 assessment systems, which together with statewide testing in grades 4, 8 and 12 will make up the state assessment system (see Examiner, Spring 2002). The guide, based on work done in southern Maine districts, is intended to help schools and districts design and implement the local assessment components. While the Primer is particular to Maine, it is revelant to other states and districts seeking to develop systems that use multiple methods.


The Primer discusses various design elements, including: articulating an assessment philosophy and defining essential knowledge and skills; system design; technical requirements; and data management and use. It includes many tools and examples to assist districts in this complex work, from sample district assessment philosophy statements to dynamic tools for calculating reliability coefficients.


The Primer builds in part on the work of the National Forum on Assessment’s Principles and Indicators for Student Assessment Systems, published by FairTest; FairTest staff had a chance to review and comment on a draft.


• The Primer is on the web of the Electronic Learning Marketplace at (link no longer active).
• The Maine Department of Education web site now has a great many materials useful for developing local assessment systems, from Measured Measures, which addresses technical questions, to presentations of portfolio systems and examples of tasks that could be used in classrooms, to Maine’s overall plans. On the web at (link no longer active) - click on standards and assessments, or go to local assessments at (link no longer active).