How to be assessment literate, no matter your role

How to be Assessment Literate, No Matter Your Role - TLG-IMG-08012019

A confident understanding of assessment helps teachers meet their students’ needs early, when it’s easier to close achievement gaps and pave the way to a long and successful academic career. Our 2016 post “Why we need assessment literacy as part of teacher preparation” touched on this critical topic.

But it’s not just teachers who play an important role. School leaders, policy makers, parents, family members, the community—and even students themselves—are vital, too. Together, they can put assessment to the best use: to help students grow.

What assessment literacy looks like

Being assessment literate is a bit different for everyone. A school leader:

  • understands and advocates for the development of balanced assessment systems
  • knows how a school can both promote and impede good assessment practice, and works to improve conditions to support good practice
  • promotes, through supervision and policy, ethical assessment practices in all contexts
  • sees learning target clarity and appropriateness as a foundation of sound assessment practice
  • establishes the expectation that faculty members will continuously develop and hone their assessment literacy
  • recognizes the faculty who become leaders and model accomplished assessment practices
  • sees the development of their own assessment literacy as a career-long learning process
  • understands how assessment information can be used to strengthen partnerships with students’ families and the community
  • promotes effective communication of results, both in formative and summative contexts
  • advocates for student involvement in their own learning through the use of assessment as a teaching and learning strategy

Policy makers should:

  • honor the diverse purposes assessment can serve in improving schools
  • demand ethical uses
  • promote clear targets
  • assure assessment literacy throughout the educational system
  • encourage effective communication of assessment results to intended users
  • maximize the quality of the motivational environment for students and professional educators
Tweet: How to be #Assessment Literate, No Matter Your Role #edchat #education

An assessment literate teacher:

  • knows how instructional decision-making fits into a balanced system of assessment
  • identifies clear and appropriate purposes for each assessment
  • is a master of the learning targets being assessed
  • can create and select high-quality assessments aligned to those targets
  • implements assessments equitably, making appropriate modifications based on student need
  • employs a variety of assessments that are appropriate for the students and learning targets
  • analyzes the results of assessments given their knowledge of their students and makes instructional adjustments based on them
  • understands how to tailor the communication of results to the needs of the intended user
  • masters the use of formative assessment to support student learning
  • can teach students how to use their assessment results to take charge of their learning success
  • partners with colleagues, students’ families, and the community, using assessment results to identify needs that can be best met collaboratively
  • sees the development of assessment literacy as a career-long learning process
  • advocates for sound assessment practices in instructional and/or policy settings

A parent, family member, or interested person in the community can:

  • understand that students are entitled to clear targets, quality assessments, effective communication of results, and equity of motivation
  • assertively protect the rights of students
  • advocate for sound assessment practices for the sake of students and to nurture effective schools in their communities

A student actively seeks to:

  • understand why they’re being assessed
  • know what knowledge they’re trying to master
  • get accurate information about their learning progress
  • have the opportunity to ask for and receive the information they need to grow
  • feel they have an important role in promoting their own success

Developing and promoting an assessment-literate school culture is a shared responsibility. Whatever role you play, take initiative in advancing your own expertise and helping others understand the principles of sound assessment practice.

Tweet: How to be #Assessment Literate, No Matter Your Role #edchat #education

Blog post

Helping students grow

Students continue to rebound from pandemic school closures. NWEA® and Learning Heroes experts talk about how best to support them here on our blog, Teach. Learn. Grow.

See the post


Put the science of reading into action

The science of reading is not a buzzword. It’s the converging evidence of what matters and what works in literacy instruction. We can help you make it part of your practice.

Get the guide


Support teachers with PL

High-quality professional learning can help teachers feel invested—and supported—in their work.

Read the article