Worth Reading: Assessment Issues

K-12 Testing

Several articles in the Winter 1997 National Forum provide valuable discussions of important assessment issues. Thomas Hatch and Steve Seidel, in "Putting Student Work on the Table," explain how conversations about student work at three levels -- among students, teachers and parents; among teachers; and between the school and the community -- can support improved learning, instructional practice, and accountability.


"Building and Maintaining a Culture of Change at CPESS," by Paul Schwarz and Deborah Meier of Central Park East Secondary School, includes a discussion of the role of assessment in ending various forms of anonymity in school, thereby supporting creation of a community of learners.


And Mary Diez, in "Assessment as a Lever in Education Reform," explains how improved assessment can foster improved learning, and why obtaining and aggregating data from classroom assessment is a useful way to provide information for school improvement and public accountability. The brevity, concreteness and clarity of these articles should make them useful starting points for discussions in and about schools.


-- Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Box 16000, Louisiana State U., Baton Rouge, LA 70893; $6.25 for the issue.


Two articles in the May/June 1996 Thrust for Educational Leadership provide good examples of community involvement in assessment reform. "Bringing the Community into the Assessment Process," by Michael Simkins, explains how one school's writing project successfully involved parents and community members in scoring papers. Forty non-teachers volunteered and eight were selected and trained in scoring the writing samples from basic competency tests.


"Student Achievement: A Community Story," by Kenneth Parker, details how all seventh graders in California's Orcutt Union School District "presented the contents of their portfolio to an important community member" whom the student did not know. Seventy community members each volunteered to review the work of nine students. (Not one parent objected.) After the review, students and community members wrote messages to each other. The results proved powerful to both community members, including the mayor, and students, building strong support for the schools.


-- Available from ACSA, 1575 Old Bayshore Hwy., Burlingame, CA 94010; $8 for the issue, which also contains a number of useful articles on assessment, including one on the National Forum on Assessment's Principles and Indicators for Student Assessment Systems.