For classroom or large-scale assessment to be effective, students must understand and share the goals for learning. Students learn more when they understand (and even participate in developing) the criteria by which their work will be evaluated, and when they engage in peer and self-assessment during which they apply those criteria. These practices develop students’ metacognitive abilities, which, as emphasized above, are necessary for effective learning.
The current educational assessment environment in the United States assigns much greater value and credibility to external, large-scale assessments of individuals and programs than to classroom assessment designed to assist learning. The investment of money, instructional time, research, and development for large-scale testing far outweighs that for effective classroom assessment. More of the research, development, and training investment must be shifted toward the classroom, where teaching and learning occur.
A vision for the future is that assessments at all levels—from classroom to state—will work together in a system that is comprehensive, coherent, and continuous. In such a system, assessments would provide a variety of evidence to support educational decision making. Assessment at all levels would be linked back to the same underlying model of student learning and would provide indications of student growth over time.