We focus extensively on test scores and far too little on the whole child. We often choose one-size-fits-all fixes while ignoring solid research about the infinite ways students learn and children develop. The true measure of students’ proficiency and college-, career-, and citizenship-readiness must be based on more than just their scores on state standardized reading and math assessments.

We shouldn’t simply teach to the test. We need to teach for understanding, and assessments are tools to gauge that understanding. When used effectively, assessments can facilitate high levels of student achievement by providing ongoing information about students’ grasp of key concepts and how to enhance their learning to help them meet or exceed academic requirements. States, districts, and schools should provide a more comprehensive picture of student achievement through multiple assessments of and for learning.

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From the Whole Child Blog

Comprehensive, Continuous, and Coherent Assessment

Our goal is to educate students who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged and who are ready for the demands of college, career, and citizenship. Through a combination of assessments of and for learning, such as growth models; portfolios; criterion-referenced tests; norm-referenced tests; computer adaptive assessments; diagnostic evaluations; and formative, interim, and summative assessments; we get a more comprehensive and continuous picture of student achievement and long-term success.

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Middle Grades Example

Magnet School Supports and Challenges Its Students for Maximum Development

 As a Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch, Corwin International Magnet School is notable for its engaging learning environment, which supports students and staff in reaching their utmost potential.

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The Future of Assessment


In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, we discuss the future of assessment and how the current accountability model must evolve from one that is punitive, prescriptive, and often overly bureaucratic to one that is truly learning-driven, informative, promotes supportive learning communities and cultures of continual improvement, and rewards achievement.

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Fast, Free, Online: The ASCD School Improvement Tool

Designed for use in schools and districts, the free ASCD School Improvement Tool offers educators a comprehensive and completely online needs assessment.