Education Organizations Release Policy Considerations to Inform Equitable Change for Assessment and Accountability Systems

Report from convenings of 100+ experts proposes federal, state actions to address immediate needs and long-term improvements

Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C. (April 6, 2021) – NWEA and Education Reform Now (ERN), in conjunction with multiple organizations representing state departments of education, school districts, policy and advocacy groups, and universities, today released recommendations and potential policy options for how to re-envision assessments and accountability measures this spring and beyond to better advance student success.

The paper, “Convening for a Common Cause: Reimagining Assessment and Accountability to Improve Student Learning,” reflects a series of robust discussions among more than 100 experts from 60+ organizations that participated in several convenings throughout the fall of 2020. The goal was to engage in productive discourse about how to ensure systems are driving deeper learning and providing educators and policymakers with data that is useful for supporting students, improving student outcomes, targeting resources, and guiding new instructional policies and practices.

“Given all the changes in the last year, from remote learning to returning to the classroom, there has never been a more critical time to ensure that assessment and accountability systems are doing what they are supposed to – drive positive student outcomes and school improvements. This requires a rethinking of traditional measures and evaluating how current policies and practices are working,” said Chris Minnich, CEO of NWEA. “With a data-informed lens, NWEA is dedicated to supporting state and district leaders in changing systems that have not given us the complete picture of student learning. The time is now to reconsider the system and include a more comprehensive view of student success.”

The unique circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have raised questions about the role academic assessments and accountability systems play in supporting educators and policymakers to make data-driven decisions around instruction, resource distribution, continuous school improvement, and, ultimately, better outcomes for all students.

“This is a moment unlike ever before where we can choose to adapt for the short-term or commit to innovate our assessment and accountability systems to ensure that comparable, statewide disaggregated data is actionable and helps close longstanding opportunity gaps,” said ERN Vice President for K-12 Policy Charles Barone. “The policy options presented here contain areas of both consensus and difference and reflect diverse perspectives across the education field that can serve as a guide for federal and state policymakers as they make decisions about how to best serve all students – especially those historically underserved.”

Specific recommendations raised in the report include:

  • How spring 2021 assessments and opportunity-to-learn (OTL) indicators can support evidence-based interventions and equitably targeted resources given the unique circumstances of the pandemic and current needs for flexibility.
  • Ways in which these OTL indicators can help revamp reporting data to be fairer, actionable, and more comprehensive to support high quality learning.
  • Opportunities to reform accountability systems to better identify and reflect the responsibilities of schools, districts, and states.
  • How data from annual assessments can inform appropriate policy-level decisions to close opportunity gaps.

You can read the full report and recommendations here:

About Education Reform Now

Education Reform Now (ERN) is a non-partisan, nonprofit think tank and advocacy organization that promotes increased resources and innovative reforms in K-16 public education, particularly for students of color and students from low-income families. We seek forward progress in public education—at the federal, state, and local level—developing and advocating for new, bold ideas and mutually reinforcing policies in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.

Contact: Victoria Fosdal, National Director of Communications, or 908.380.3038

About NWEA

NWEA® (formerly known as Northwest Evaluation Association) is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide by creating assessment solutions that precisely measure growth and proficiency—and provide insights to help tailor instruction. Educators in more than 10,000 schools, districts, and education agencies in 146 countries rely on our flagship interim assessment, MAP® Growth™; our reading fluency and comprehension assessment, MAP® Reading Fluency™ ; our personalized learning tool powered by Khan Academy, MAP® Accelerator™; and our state solutions that combine growth and proficiency measurement. Visit to find out how NWEA can partner with you to help all kids learn.

Contact: Simona Beattie, Sr. Manager, Public Relations, or 971.361.9526