What’s the state of K-12 assessment?

Key points:

The majority of educators believe their school or district has an assessment-focused culture, but there are gaps in K-12 assessment literacy and familiarity with state standards, according to the 2023 State of Assessment in K-12 Education report from Instructure and Hanover Research.

With post-pandemic learning loss a continued focus, educators and administrators are relying on both formative and summative K-12 assessment data to direct classroom instruction. However, they are concerned about K-12 assessment literacy; the value placed on assessments; quality and reliability; identifying the right technology to deliver data; and effectively balancing assessment with instruction.

While 81 percent of educators believe they have an assessment-focused culture, there are discrepancies in assessment literacy, a lack of comfort with state standards, and the burdensome nature of the current assessment model. Only 62 percent of educators feel proficient in assessment literacy and 51 percent have concerns over the negative impact of assessments on instructional time. This emphasizes the need for relevant professional development opportunities, the use of embedded (or in-course) assessments, and systemic improvements that create an impactful and supportive assessment environment for both educators and students.

The findings suggest five common trends and best practices to drive more balanced assessment in K-12 schools:

1. Assessment literacy needs to be prioritized. There is a need to invest in professional development for teachers to build confidence in assessment design and practice, as well as how to effectively use the data to drive learning.

  • Four out of five educators perceive their district or school culture to be “assessment-focused,” yet only three out of five consider themselves “assessment literate.”
  • With less than two-thirds of educators (64 percent) feeling comfortable with their current state standards, further efforts are needed to promote standards-aligned assessment.
Laura Ascione
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