Monday, June 29, 2009

Pearson is Fulfilling the Goal to be the Nation’s Thought Leader in Assessment

One of primary objectives of Pearson as the leading provider of educational measurement research is to lead the effort on effective educational policy discussion. Sometimes these efforts are clearly articulated in customer facing actions (like legally defensible setting of student performance standards), academic research publications or conference presentations. Other times, policy and/or position papers are prepared to inform our customers and others regarding the direction Pearson is steering education. I was recently involved in the development of such a paper and wanted to share it with you in this post

“Using Assessments to Improve Student Learning and Progress” is a very interesting paper that clarifies the roles of large-scale, high-stakes assessments as contrasted with classroom assessments. While I have made such comparisons in other TrueScores posts, this paper is much more comprehensive.

Here is a brief except of the distinctions made in the paper:
“Assessments for learning provide the continuous feedback in the teach-and-learn cycle, which is not the intended mission of summative assessment systems. Teachers teach and often worry if they connected with their students. Students learn, but often misunderstand subtle points in the text or in the material presented. Without ongoing feedback, teachers lack qualitative insight to personalize learning for both advanced and struggling students, in some cases with students left to ponder whether they have or haven’t mastered the assigned content.”
This paper also contains links to other Pearson related efforts to inform and shape public policy and opinion as evidenced from the follow except:

“Assessments for learning are part of formative systems, where they not only provide information on gaps in learning, but inform actions that can be taken to personalize learning or differentiate instruction to help close those gaps. The feedback loop continues by assessing student progress after an instructional unit or intervention to verify that learning has taken place, and to guide next steps. As described by (Pearson authors) Nichols, Meyers, and Burling:
‘Assessments labeled as formative have been offered as a means to customize instruction to narrow the gap between students’ current state of achievement and the targeted state of achievement. The label formative is applied incorrectly when used as a label for an assessment instrument reference to an assessment as formative is shorthand for the particular use of assessment information, whether coming from a formal assessment or teachers’ observations, to improve student achievement. As William and Black (1996) note: ‘To sum up, in order to serve a formative function, an assessment must yield evidence that…indicates the existence of a gap between actual and desired levels of performance, and suggests actions that are in fact successful in closing the gap.’”

This quote also shows how the Pearson themes are indeed consistent in that personalized learning is supported through the Pearson "teach and learn" cycle as informed by assessment—one Pearson's primary goals. So, go check it out!

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