Are the new multi-state consortia working on Common Core State Standards Assessments building that kind of formative capacity? Maybe not.
Margaret Heritage argues that both consortia are instead proposing much more conventional testing that will yield much less important achievement results. Dr. Heritage is Assistant Director for Professional Development at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing at UCLA. In a new report to the Council of Chief State School Officers she argues that:
despite the pioneering efforts of CCSSO and other organizations in the U.S., we already risk losing the promise that formative assessment holds for teaching and learning. The core problem lies in the false, but nonetheless widespread, assumption that formative assessment is a particular kind of measurement instrument, rather than a process that is fundamental and indigenous to the practice of teaching and learning. This distinction is critical, not only for understanding how formative assessment functions, but also for realizing its promise for our students and our society.The report comes with detailed research citations explaining why and how the formative assessment process can significantly raise student results, and raises an alarm about whether the two groups now working on multi-state assessments are focusing on testing instruments that cannot deliver that kind of impact.
Check out EdWeek's Curriculum Matters for a further summary or read the full argument by downloading Formative Assessment and Next-Generation Assessment Systems: Are We Losing an Opportunity?
For background on the assessment consortia, start with these earlier PrichBlog posts on Smarter/Balanced and PARCC.