A newly-released report from New America takes a closer look at research on the assessment of school learning. ?Compiled by?Fredrik DeBoer, the paper focuses on the push for additional assessment and knowledge collection throughout advanced schooling and discusses the backlash that results.
DeBoer begins the report, titled “Standardized Assessments of College Learning: Past and offer,” by discussing the increase in standardized testing that\’s taking place in K-12 schools across the nation. ?However, he says this is not the situation for American universities, which aren\’t subject to legal and infrastructural pressures that create standardization and homogeneity to occur. ?In fact, he writes that universities are typically individual entities that function by themselves. ?This makes it especially hard to assess college learning and to coordinate and standardize any assessments.
He goes on to discuss the concerns involved with tracking assessment data for advanced schooling. ?Specifically, he notes the possible lack of history involved with any sort of comparative assessment of schools or programs. ?While tests exist to compare individual students, the same cannot be said of universities as well as their programs. ?Many educators have shared their concerns pertaining to the consequences of making such a system, which they say would bring an end to faculty control over curriculum and versatile, content-specific teaching.
Some?claim that implementing any kind of assessment system would cause faculty to start to “teach to the test” and could lead to test fraud. ?Others reason that such a system would require expenditure of valuable resources while institutions already are feeling pressured to “tighten their belts.”
DeBoer has lots of recommendations concerning the development of an exam for advanced schooling.
First, he suggests that standardized tests used in higher education should be subject to external validation. ?While he says there\’s a need for some test security when it comes to test development in order to keep certain secrets, ultimately he writes that test developers need to understand that it is only through a truly independent verification that public confidence could be built in regards to the validity, reliability, and fairness of their exam.
The report states that faculty and native administration should be offered to be a part of the assessment process. ?Advocating for turning disciplinary assessment over to faculty and their departments,?DeBoer suggests that faculty be assured that they will have a say within the key decisions that go into creating a comprehensive assessment plan to be able to have those faculty members see themselves as partners rather than targets, that they says will create effective relationships and lasting assessment programs.
DeBoer also shows that assessments not be high stakes, but simultaneously, they need to possess some sort of stakes attached. ?He writes that assessments are only valuable when they are used to make improvements upon institutions, and so, assessment data should be carefully reviewed to find out areas of strength and want and where categories of students are seeing unequal outcomes.
He shows that most importantly, assessments can be used to see how well public resources and tuition dollars are being used.