Assessments Information

Expert finally admits: SBAC will dictate curriculum

James Pellegrino, a member of the technical advisory board for Smarter Balanced (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC)  finally admitted what we have said all along,   SBAC and PARCC (or any national assessment) will guide curriculum and classroom instruction.   Teachers not tests should guide student learning.

This excerpt taken from an interview beween Education Week and Pellegrino, makes it very clear.James Pellegrino

What are the key issues in assessment that you think need to be addressed over the next several years?

James Pellegrino

I think we need to give a whole lot of thought and emphasis to the development of quality tools and materials that can support teachers in enacting assessment as part of a learning environment in the classroom. In other words, we need to spend less time being so preoccupied with the large-scale standardized accountability tests. We still need to have assessments that do that kind of monitoring, but I and a lot of other people in the assessment field think that we need to reverse the emphasis. We need to focus on assessment for learning at the classroom level. We are so hung up on assessment of learning for purposes of accountability or monitoring that we’ve lost track of the investment we need in quality resources and materials to help teachers and help teachers help students.

The report by the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education in which you were involved makes a similar point, specifically recommending “new assessment resources and tools that better integrate assessment with classroom teaching and learning and better represent current thinking on how students learn and on changes in the world at large.” Any sense of what that would look like for teachers in the classroom?

Well, in some ways, really good assessment of the type we’re thinking about doesn’t look all that different from really good instruction—or the kinds of tasks we would want students to engage in the classroom as part of their learning. So there tends to be a misconception that we’re just talking about building a bunch of new tests. What we’re really talking about is building tasks and situations in which students engage in the kinds of thinking and reasoning we want them to do with texts or mathematical solutions or scientific concepts—and engage in them in ways where they have to grapple with the key ideas. Some of this is about building better sets of tasks or scenarios that teachers can use as part of their instructional practice to help guide student learning. The tasks should allow students to show what they understand and do not understand—and therefore help the teachers enact formative assessment practices. It’s complicated because it means that we in the assessment community have got to get much closer to the world of curriculum and instruction. (Emphasis added)

If Michigan does not get out of SBAC we will lose control of curriculum and classroom instruction. Parents must opt out of the field tests being conducted this month around the state and state lawmakers must NOT fund any assessment that we cannot control and that will dictate instruction.