Stakeholder Perceptions on Assessments

Under ESSA, State Boards of Ed are responsible for engaging stakeholders as part of the work to take place to ensure understanding of the new law.

A really interesting report released this summer from Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) who partnered with Gallup on a stakeholder study on assessments. NWEA had planned their survey well before ESEA was reauthorized.

This study engaged five key stakeholder groups: Teachers, Parents, Principals, Superintendents, and Students.

Theory of Change: Information about all students and individual students inform policymakers, teachers, parents to know and make decisions about change (policymakers), practice (teachers), schools and districts (parents).

"Perception is reality": Stakeholders were asked about the changing role of assessment. Some key findings, especially from parents:
  • Everyone is concerned about lack of understanding of purpose of assessments, especially state policymakers.
  • 32% of fathers felt that state assessments improve their child's learning
  • 21% of mothers felt that state assessments don't improve their child's learning
  • Parents felt there was a lack of communication from teachers about their child's performance on the state assessment
  • Teachers do not feel comfortable about interpreting and communicating state testing results to parents
  • 61% of parents said child's teacher rarely or never communicated with them about state assessment results
Key Findings from the study overall:
  1. Education stakeholders value assessments broadly, but views vary by assessment type and purpose.
  2. Parents need more information about assessments.
  3. Administrators are still getting to know ESSA, but superintendents are optimistic about its impact.
  4. Gaps in understanding of the purpose of assessments remain:
    • Most teachers, principals, and superintendents do not believe that state and federal policymakers understand the purpose of different types of assessments, highlighting the need for dialogue around ESSA implementation
    • Teachers are largely doubtful that parents understand formative or interim assessments--the diagnostic tools and practices teachers frequently use to gauge student understanding and adapt the instruction process
    • Parents are skeptical that state tests improve the quality of teaching
  5. Teachers need additional training to maximize the power of assessment data to inform instructional practices
Recommendations:
  1. Get ESSA implementation "right" - foster dialogue with stakeholders
  2. Involve students in assessment planning processes - what students gain in understanding them is applied to their personal academic/educational goals
  3. Support ongoing assessment education for teachers - with particular focus on teacher preparation
  4. Change the national dialogue - provide assessment literacy resources for all stakeholders
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Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and Gallup Study: Make Assessments Work for All Students: Multiple Measures Matter