Assessing the Common CoreBy Joe Willhoft, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
Students are getting ready to return to the classroom, and much work is being done to align lesson plans, professional learning opportunities, and instructional resources to the Common Core State Standards. As educators focus on effective implementation, the importance of developing next-generation assessments cannot be overlooked.
New assessments will give teachers, parents, and policymakers better, more timely information to determine whether students are meeting the high expectations of the standards—as well as tools to help them stay on track. They represent a new way of thinking about assessment to support instruction, and ultimately, the goal of college and career readiness for all students.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is a state-led effort to create high-quality assessments that will be implemented in the 2014-15 school year. Our vision for a balanced assessment system includes formative, interim, and summative components that work together to provide actionable information to improve teaching and learning. The assessment system is designed to give states maximum flexibility to meet local needs—through optional interim assessments and on-demand formative strategies and practices—while covering the full depth and breadth of knowledge and skills in the Common Core State Standards.
Smarter Balanced is working with educators and experts in the field to write and review assessment items and performance tasks, and to conduct research on how students respond to new and innovative question types. In the fall, we will release additional sample items and performance tasks. And early next year, we will conduct a Pilot Test of the assessments in schools across the country.
Joe Willhoft, Ph.D. is the executive director for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Prior to joining Smarter Balanced, he was assistant superintendent for assessment and student information for Washington state.