In order for states to close the achievement gap and ensure the success of all students, every state will need teachers who can interpret assessment results and take action based on accurate assessment data. Evidence strongly supports the need for teachers who are assessment literate, yet few colleges of education or K12 school districts provide adequate training on the use of assessments for teaching and learning. In 2016, NWEA and Gallup released a study of assessment perceptions, Make Assessment Work for All Students, that found the following:
- Most teachers feel prepared or very prepared to engage in a variety of assessment activities; however, only with regard to administering assessments do most teachers say they feel “very prepared”;
- Only 37% of teachers say they feel “very prepared” to interpret assessment results;
- Only 38% of teachers say they feel “very prepared” to communicate test results to parents.
The lack of assessment education for teachers can directly affect student learning if a teacher is not prepared to use rich assessment data that may be available. In an effort to address the need for assessment education, the National Task Force on Assessment Education was launched in 2015. The Task Force includes a diverse group of active leaders and educators in K12 education who all believe that increasing assessment literacy among teachers is an urgent and important priority.
As a first public offering, the Task Force has developed a definition of assessment literacy that helps put the topic into context, outlines the concept of an assessment-literate individual, and provides specific capabilities for assessment-literate stakeholders by their role in the education system. It can be used to guide the development of systems that use assessments appropriately and equitably to support teaching and learning.
The National Task Force is comprised of 23 educators from 17 states; you can see the complete list of Task Force members here. The Task Force definition of assessment literacy follows the 2015 launch of this website as part of NWEA’s Assessment Literacy initiative, which is a multi-year effort aimed at advancing teacher preparation and professional development in the use of assessments to promote teaching and learning. The Task Force has met in person four times and formed work groups focused on ESSA, Communications, Resources, and Research, among other issues.