Assess to Support Learning

FairTest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing FairTest is an advocacy organization working to end the abuses, misuses and flaws of standardized testing and ensure that evaluation of students and workers is fair, open, and educationally sound. They emphasize eliminating the racial, class, gender, and cultural barriers to equal opportunity posed by standardized tests, and preventing their damage to the quality of education. This site provides information, technical assistance and advocacy on a broad range of testing concerns, focusing on three areas: K-12, university admissions and employment tests (including teacher testing).

Alfie Kohn: Rescuing our schools from "tougher standards". Alfie Kohn has been a most visible proponent of effective education for students (See The Schools Our Children Deserve, What to Look for in a Classroom, and No Contest). Likewise, he has been most visible in the struggle against the harm being imposed by the standards movement and standardized tests, an approach summarized by the cartoon below taken from his website (See The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining our Schools). This site has short articles regarding the problems with the standards movement and standardized tests, links to additional resources including a national network of coordinators in each state.

Up Close and Personal: How Classroom Assessment Improves Learning. Article describing initiatives in Nebraska to focus on classroom assessment rather than standardized testing to improve learning.

Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) This site provides examples of useful assessments that are directly linked to instruction, providing teachers, students, and parent's ongoing authentic assessment information that helps students learn and teachers teach.

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory This site provides information and links regarding ways to link assessment to effective learning and teaching in meaningful ways, strategies for assuring equity in the assessment process, particularly concerned with issues of race and class. On this site, we would particularly recommend the following article: Why Should Assessment be based on a Vision of Learning? M. Kulieke, J. Bakker, C. Collins, T. Fennimore, C. Fine, J. Herman, B.F. Jones, L. Raack, M.B. Tinzmann
NCREL, Oak Brook, 1990.

K-12 Standards: MCREL This site provides comprehensive descriptions and links to standards and benchmarks established for various disciplines across grade levels. Briefly peruse this list across a couple of subjects. Go to the standards list for two subjects for second graders. Think how you might feel if you were required to effectively respond to these standards to keep your present job. Similar standards statements are finding their way into the standards documents of states all over the country, representing impossible and potentially undesirable technical knowledge on the part of children. These standards statements are significant for what they include. Perhaps they are the most significant for what they exclude. Go to the section on civics, for example, and try to find examples regarding how grassroots organizations, such as those who headed the civil rights movement in the 1960's, developed political impact. Or look for standards that talk about building emotional health or the capacity to care for other human beings, to develop a sense of character. We have to remember that standards have presently been driven by the coalition of the technical needs of corporations and the perceptions of what academics think the world should know about their subjects. To date, minimal to no conversations have been held broadly with parents, community members and organizations, and children themselves regarding what they think the goals of learning should be.