Teachers will also use summative assessments for ongoing reflection and feedback about overall progress and for reporting of this information to others. External summative assessments, such as state tests, will reinforce the same ultimate goals and beliefs about learning that are operating in the classroom. Large-scale assessments will set valuable learning goals for students to pursue. Such assessments will broadly sample the desired outcomes for learning by using a variety of methods, such as on-demand assessment combined with a sampling of work produced during the course of instruction.
Policy makers, educators, and the public will come to expect more than the general comparisons and rankings that characterize current test results. Performance on large-scale assessments will be explicitly and publicly displayed so that students, parents, and teachers can see the concepts and processes entailed at different levels of competence. Assessments will be able to show, for instance, how a competent performer proceeds on a mathematics problem and forms an answer, in comparison with a student who is less proficient. Large-scale assessments will help show the different kinds of interpretations, procedural strategies, explanations, and products that differentiate among various levels or degrees of competence.
Within an education system, teachers, administrators, and policy makers will be working from a shared knowledge base about how students learn subject matter and what aspects of competence are important to assess. Resource materials that synthesize modern scientific understanding of how people learn in areas of the curriculum will serve as the basis for the design of classroom and large-scale assessments, as well as curriculum and instruction, so that all the system’s components work toward a coherent set of learning goals.
In many ways, this vision for assessment represents a significant departure from the types of assessments typically available today and from the ways in which such assessments are most commonly used. Current knowledge could serve as the basis for a number of improvements to the assessment design process (as described in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of this report) to produce assessment information that would be more useful, valid, and fair. Full realization of the committee’s broader vision for educational assessment, however, will require more knowledge about how to design and use such assessments, as well as about the underlying fundamental properties of learning and measurement. Furthermore, the committee recognizes that the maximum potential of new forms of assessment cannot be realized unless educational practices and policies adapt in significant ways. Some of the constraints that currently limit assessment practice will need to be relaxed if the full benefits of a merger between the cognitive and measurement sciences are to be realized. The new kinds of assessment described in this report do not necessarily conform to the current mode of on-demand, pa-