Accountability for College and Career Readiness: Developing a New Paradigm
From the abstract: “As schools across the country prepare for new standards under the Common Core, states are moving toward creating more aligned systems of assessment and accountability. This report recommends an accountability approach that focuses on meaningful learning, enabled by professionally skilled and committed educators, and supported by adequate and appropriate resources, so that all students regardless of background are prepared for both college and career when they graduate from high school. Drawing on practices already established in other states and on the views of policymakers and school experts, this report proposes principles for effective account-ability systems and imagines what a new accountability system could look like in an imagined “51st state” in the United States. While considerable discussion and debate will be needed before a new approach can take shape, this report’s objective is to get the conversation started so the nation can meet its aspirations for preparing college- and career-ready students.” (A shorter version of the full report can be found here.)
The authors of this guidance document provide useful content that suggests “a system of higher-quality assessments, both state-designed and locally developed, should include authentic performance tasks (e.g., classroom-based projects and products like those used in other countries) that assess and encourage the development of the full range of higher order skills.” In addition, they believe the purpose of overall assessment systems needs to shift so that there is more focus on formative assessment and related data and less emphasis on summative measures. Information is communicated through tables, charts, and graphs in an extensive but well-presented document that is easily navigated and understood.
The value of this policy publication is in the ideas related to the new paradigm for accountability that it offers. A stated objective is to share ideas “in the spirit of beginning a conversation that might ultimately result in a policy framework with the potential to allow the United States to move forward in its aspirations to educate all students for the demands of the world they are entering.” The quality of the paper and related effectiveness of formative assessment practices that play a role in the “new paradigm” make it a worthwhile resource for those engaged in reviewing or setting local and national assessment policy.