activities. Such an assessment should therefore be administered in the classroom (or wherever the activity takes place).

It is also important to consider how the results will be used. There are trade-offs inherent in any decision about where assessment should take place. For example, while ongoing classroom assessment helps teachers make instructional decisions that can enhance student learning, the results of such assessments may not be incorporated easily into an assessment system that is used for accountability purposes because they are not standardized and therefore not easily comparable. By the same token, the results of standardized tests, which are easily absorbed into accountability systems, may not meet the immediate needs of teachers or students.

One strategy for meeting both needs is to ask teachers to incorporate some standardized tasks—which can more easily be used for accountability purposes because their comparability from classroom to classroom can be readily established—into their repertoire of classroom assessment strategies. Such assessment tools would not replace ongoing formative assessment but supplement it (see, for example, the description of New York’s and Connecticut’s assessment of inquiry in Chapter 3). There is a need for more research on the design and implementation of standardized classroom assessment opportunities. Textbook publishers could assist in this effort by including in their supplementary materials a variety of assessment activities and related scoring rubrics that could be implemented by teachers in the classroom and possibly incorporated into the state’s assessment system.


Decisions about how frequently to assess depend on how the results are to be used and how stable they need to be over time. For example, tests given at the end of a school year, while useful for providing a snapshot of what students have learned and for evaluating patterns of errors that could be the target of future instructional interventions, do not typically affect the educational experiences of the students who take them. Assessment strategies designed to support students’ ongoing learning must provide feedback in time for students and their teachers to benefit from the information. Tests that are used to determine how students are progressing from one grade to the next may only have to be administered once per year. Large-scale assessments, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science assessment, that are designed to paint a broad picture of what students in U.S. schools know and can do in science need to be administered even less often. Assessing more frequently than is necessary for a particular purpose is costly and inefficient; assessing too infrequently can provide inaccurate information or may provide information that arrives too late to be useful to support important decisions.

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