Every assessment has strengths and limitations, which means no single measure will serve every specific need. If your system has been built piecemeal over time, it’s likely to be chaotic, as various tools have been added to meet needs without a comprehensive look at the entire system. To create a coherent assessment system that meets all needs efficiently, you’ll want to do a thorough review of the assessments you have and compare that with the primary purpose of each assessment you administer. You’re likely to find redundant, misaligned, and unused assessments—as well as discover gaps between what you need and what your current assessments deliver. It’s time to cut what you don’t need and add what you do.
When you streamline your assessment system, you’ll realize a number of benefits, including:
- More confidence in your data
- More reliable assessment results
- More effective instructional time
- More value delivered from time spent testing
- Budget savings
- Higher student engagement
- Support from parents and the community
Here are four steps to streamlining your assessment system:
1. Identify assessments that are performing the same purpose. Can you eliminate any of these assessments and still have all your critical purposes fulfilled? What if you leverage other assessments to validly meet other needs? Make sure to evaluate these assessments by both grade span and subject before you decide to eliminate them.
2. Review your defined purposes and the assessments currently in use to meet the purposes. Review technical documentation for each assessment and confirm that each one can validly meet its defined purpose.
3. Identify stakeholders receiving results from each assessment. Confirm that the data is being used regularly to inform key decisions. If no one is receiving the data or using it to meet a defined purpose, consider eliminating the assessment.
4. After you have listed the assessments and confirmed their capabilities and current uses, identify critical needs that are not currently being met by assessment data. This is an opportunity for you to fill in any gaps and create a coherent assessment system that serves the needs of your stakeholders.
Eliminating assessments you don’t need is one step in making your system coherent. But you also need to note any key purposes for which your assessment system is not providing necessary data and fill those gaps. Evaluate the measures you’re confident are valuable and ask if you can use their data to validly fulfill more needs. And if you still have gaps, implement additional measures to fill them.