PRINCETON, N.J., March 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A high-level, 30-member commission of educators and thought leaders formed to examine the future of education and its assessment issued a report today calling upon state and federal policymakers to commit to a long-term effort to develop assessments that place greater emphasis on providing timely and valuable information to students and teachers.
The report of The Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education asserts that good assessments provide timely, constructive information that help students accelerate their learning and teachers personalize instruction. Commission members expressed concern that the use of test results for the sole purpose of school accountability has overshadowed, at times, the more valuable uses of assessments. The Commission also found that although digital technologies that may one day be used for real time assessment of learning show promise, much more research is required before they can be fully integrated into classrooms and schools.
The Commission's goal is to stimulate a national conversation about the relationship between assessment, teaching and learning at a time when policy developments such as the Common Core State Standards and the work of assessment consortia like PARCC and Smarter Balance have heightened awareness of the critical relationships among more rigorous standards, curriculum, instruction and appropriate assessment.
"The primary purpose of assessment ought to be to inform and improve teaching and learning," said Dr. Edmund Gordon, the Commission's Chairman.
The Gordon Commission endorses the Common Core assessment's emphasis on competencies such as critical thinking and problem-solving, rather than on the rote recall of information and more basic skills. The report warns, however, that the potential of new assessments might not be reached if their purpose is solely to hold teachers and schools accountable for performance. The nation must invest in the development of new types of assessments that work together to inform teaching and learning and still provide measures of progress for accountability purposes.
The Commission's Policy Report asserts that the country must invest in developing systems of assessment that provide timely, constructive information to help students accelerate their acquisition of those competencies and teachers to personalize instruction.
Named after its Chairperson, Dr. Edmund W. Gordon -- one of the nation's foremost scholars on education issues such as assessment, the achievement gap, and the interactions between teaching and learning and an emeritus professor at Yale University and Teachers College, Columbia University -- the Commission was established by Educational Testing Service (ETS) to honor Dr. Gordon's long and distinguished career and with the purpose of providing guidance for the future of the field. The Commission operates independently of ETS.
"Our conviction is that while the field of measurement in education has established a splendid history primarily directed at the measurement of education, the future of assessment in education will depend on the field's capacity to pursue assessment for education," Dr. Gordon said.
Although there is much more research to be done, the Commission members are optimistic about the potential of digital games and simulations to combine learning and assessment. "I am really interested in ways that technology can dramatically change both what we assess and how we assess it and also our ability to make assessment more productive for teachers and others to use," said Jim Pellegrino, Liberal Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Professor of Education, Co-Director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago who Co-Chaired the Commission.
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