Performance Counts: Assessment Systems that Support High-Quality Learning*
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) commissioned this report from Linda Darling Hammond about standards, assessment and teacher evaluation. Educators will find her work relevant and compelling. While it is not the official position of the CCSSO, it will inform the discussion around recommends they make to Congress, the federal Department of Education and to the state departments of education.
The lovely thing about this 16-page white paper is that Darling-Hammond is writing to a policy audience and so the paper includes a highly accessible presentation of technical research findings. More importantly Darling-Hammond imagines a revision of not only standards, but of assessment, teaching and learning—in short, a whole new school system for America that could change the nature of teaching and learning in this country and the culture of work in schools.
As she explains in the forward,
“Contemporary efforts to create a set of common core standards in the United States have been grounded in a desire to create more internationally competitive expectation by benchmarking learning objective to those in high performing nations abroad. The Common Core State Standards Initiative aims for standards that are ‘fewer, higher and deeper,’ based on analyses revealing that higher achieving countries teach fewer topics more deeply each year, focus more on reasoning skills and applications of knowledge and have a well worked out sequence of expectations grounded in developmental learning progressions within domains.” p 2
From the forward by Gene Wilhoit, Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers,:
“This white paper describes what a student assessment system could look like if built from the principles and best practices found in current educational research and effective educational systems in the U.S. and high-achieving nations around the world…We believe this paper can be a tremendous resource to states as they design new programs that will engage educators and learners in new and powerful ways. But this will not be a quick fix. This new direction rewrites the rules about assessing students from a top-down concept to a more inclusive engagement of educators and learners in the process.”
Hammond summarizes an important finding about effective U.S. systems and international programs: High achieving systems seek to implement their standards with assessments that measure performance in authentic ways and with intensive teacher engagement throughout the assessment process, as teachers work with others to develop, review, score, and use the results of assessments.
In this report, she summarizes characteristics of effective programs, outlines new responsibilities for states and local education agencies and recommends several broad research based options for transforming teaching and learning in the United States.
*Written by Linda Darling Hammond. A joint project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE)