Like many in the field of education, I follow the path of the assessment paradigm with great interest. Through the efforts of “No Child Left Behind” and the many accountability systems put into place in our states and districts, assessment of student learning is on the minds of many. One would only review a listing of presentations at professional development workshops, any educational journal or the editorial pages of your local paper for support of the notion that assessment has become a part of our country’s educational landscape.

Assessment has become inseparable from formal education--and it’s probably here to stay. The problem for many educators is that the term, “assessment” is full of paradox, and has taken on different meanings for different people. Assessment has become a driving force and factor in the funding of schools, teacher evaluation, curriculum development, the adaptation of curriculum and testing for special needs learners, determining mission and vision for schools, the retention of administrators and even the re-election of politicians. Oh, and don’t forget, assessment can help to explain, determine, monitor, and promote student learning too.

The editors of Educational Leadership, the periodical of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, in an effort to meet the needs of their wide spectrum of readers, fell prey to this paradox as well. The frames for the November 2005 issue were “assessment that promotes learning” and “an examination of the role of all kinds of assessment.” Yet, in further describing the aims of this issue, contributors were asked to consider how data can monitor progress, inform instruction, meet diversity requirements, determine how homework fits in, and decide whether or not assessment is valid and appropriate. Sure, all of this fits together in some respects, but this seems to be asking a lot of one test.



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