structional practices. It is particularly important that such work be done in close collaboration with practicing teachers who have varying backgrounds and levels of teaching experience.

  • Also to be studied are ways in which school structures (e.g., length of time of classes, class size, and opportunity for teachers to work together) impact the feasibility of implementing new types of assessments and their effectiveness.

The committee firmly believes that the kinds of examples described in this report—all of which are currently being used in classrooms or large-scale contexts—represent positive steps toward the development of assessments that can not only inform but also improve learning. However, for these kinds of innovations to gain more widespread adoption, work is needed to make them practical for use in classroom and large-scale contexts, and evidence of their impact on student learning is needed.

Furthermore, the power offered by assessments to enhance learning in large numbers of classrooms depends on changes in the relationship between teacher and student, the types of lessons teachers use, the pace and structure of instruction, and many other factors. To take advantage of the new tools, many teachers will have to change their conception of their role in the classroom. They will have to shift toward placing much greater emphasis on exploring students’ understanding with the new tools and then undertaking a well-informed application of what has been revealed by use of the tools. This means teachers must be prepared to use feedback from classroom and external assessments to guide their students’ learning more effectively by modifying the classroom and its activities. In the process, teachers must guide their students to be more engaged actively in monitoring and managing their own learning—to assume the role of student as self-directed learner.

The power of new assessments depends on substantial changes not only in classroom practice, but also in the broader educational context in which assessments are conducted. For assessment to serve the goals of learning, there must be alignment among curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Furthermore, the existing structure and organization of schools may not easily accommodate the type of instruction users of the new assessments will need to employ. For instance, if teachers are going to gather more assessment information during the course of instruction, they will need time to assimilate that information. If these kinds of systemic and structural issues are not addressed, new forms of assessment will not live up to their full potential. This is a common fate for educational innovations. Many new techniques and procedures have failed to affect teaching and learning on a large scale because the innovators did not address all the factors that affect

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