Benchmark Assessments: Are They What Assessment Was Always Supposed To Be, Or Just More Testing?

In what is either (as) a brilliant move to bring assessment back into the classroom and make it actually useful to teachers and instruction, or (b) a misguided effort to add yet another layer of testing on kids and teachers who already have too much information coming at them, several districts including Chicago are now trying to implement systemwide "benchmark" assessments.

My Catalyst article on this topic won't be out until next month, but in the meantime there are a couple of worthwile-seeming articles and blog postings on this.


Reclaiming Testing "Is it possible to reclaim assessment as a way to adjust teaching and learning? Authors in this month's Educational Leadership say yes. They show how educators can focus on learning through using formative assessment in the classroom." (ASCD).

Benchmark Assessments Offer Regular Checkups On Student Achievement "School districts worried about how students will perform on end-of-the-year state tests are increasingly administering “benchmark assessments” throughout the year to measure students’ progress and provide teachers with data about how to adjust instruction." (EdWeek)

Not All Teachers Keen on Periodic Tests "Across the country, school districts are adopting benchmark assessments to help teachers modify instruction over the course of a school year. Yet many teachers remain wary." (EdWeek)

Kick-Ass Math Benchmark Assessments "Our new benchmark assessment system in mathematics is getting pretty good reviews from teachers and students...It's much more than just a testing system, but a full professional development and leadership tool to improve instruction." (Teach and Learn). When he's not hyping the math benchmarks, Mike's got some other good thoughts and links on the topic here.

Not explicitly about benchmarks, recent news from Philadelphia that education administrators there were going to introduce a CompStat-style intervention system would seem to require the use of regular assessments rather than just year-end accountability measures. But this is where accountability and diagnostic assessment get blurred -- and where most educators go crazy. In Phila., stats are just a start (Inquirer).

Me, I just want another excuse to use cool (but probably not very useful) Google Map school mashups like this one.


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