Positioning State Assessment Systems in Service to Teaching and Learning

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

As states face growing calls to develop assessments that more directly support high-quality teaching and learning, several states and education leaders are considering ways to connect state assessments to what students experience and learn in the classroom. When done well and implemented with care, states can use curriculum-anchored assessments to:

  1. Learn more effectively,
  2. Yield more valid and meaningful test scores, and
  3. Have a positive influence on the trajectory of classroom instruction.

This paper explores a set of five key questions related to curriculum-anchored assessments, including:

  • What are curriculum-anchored assessments?
  • Why consider curriculum-anchored assessments?
  • What are the design considerations and affordances of different approaches to curriculumbased assessment systems?
  • How can states design curriculum-anchored assessment systems that balance federal requirements for state assessments and local curriculum decisions?
  • What are the enabling conditions for curriculum-anchored assessment systems in states?

Because curriculum-anchored assessment systems are still an emerging model in current state assessment systems, this paper considers examples, lessons learned, opportunities and challenges from an expansive set of curriculum-anchored systems. These systems include:

  • Robust systems used internationally,
  • High-quality systems in place in the United States prior to the No Child Left Behind era of testing,
  • Those currently used in states and districts as part of local and statewide efforts at innovative, instructionally relevant assessment systems, and
  • Large-scale integrated curriculum and assessment systems, like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.

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