assessments of key concepts and skills, perhaps standardized instruments developed at the state level, in their model.

Other characteristics of the model included an emphasis on the assessment of concepts over skills, a reliance on multiple-choice items supplemented by a small proportion of constructed-response items, and the incorporation of targeted professional development designed to assist teachers in gaining optimal instructional insights from the assessments.

A Classroom-Based Assessment System for Science

Another design team was asked to develop a strategy for building a coherent, instructionally useful, teacher-led assessment program that would meet the NCLB requirements. Their principal goal was that assessment should have the effect of informing instruction and improving student achievement. The team took as its starting point the Nebraska STARS assessment system, which uses classroom-based assessments for accountability purposes. The team identified professional development as the critical component in the system, with the following specific goals:

  • Teachers must understand the state content standards and incorporate them into their work,

  • Teachers must be able to develop instruments to gather information about their students’ performance relative to the standards at the classroom level, and

  • Teachers’ reports of their students’ achievement can be collected and used in meeting NCLB’s accountability requirements.

The model includes criterion-referenced assessments administered in the classroom and developed by teachers, with guidance provided through peer groups and other supports. These assessments, while embedded in regular classroom activities, would yield classifications of students into at least the three categories required by NCLB: basic, proficient, and advanced. Because the results would be reported in terms of these predetermined performance categories, they could be aggregated across the state, and could be disaggregated by student subgroups. The assessments would also yield diagnostic information about individual students that could be immediately useful to students and teachers, as well as other kinds of information needed by stakeholders at each level of the system.

While the team saw considerable potential benefits to a classroom-based system led by teachers—ranging from the potential for integrating standards, instruction, and assessment to empowerment of teachers, to potential cost savings—they noted challenges as well. Calibrating the expectations for achievement of different districts and teachers is not easily done. Some costs may be reduced, but others—particularly for professional development—will likely be higher. They also acknowledged that this assessment model is not, as they put it, “psychometri-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement