Improving standards and assessments

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All students deserve access to great schools, colleges, careers, and opportunity. Yet, the fact is our education policies and classroom practices could be doing more to reach all our students. We must make certain that all students, including English Learners and those with special needs, who have historically been underserved, are able to thrive.

Any bold change requires great courage, not just to begin a transformation, but also to truly stay the course toward ongoing growth and improvement in public schools. Teachers, students, and parents can’t make this shift alone; we need our states, cities, districts, unions, administrators, and communities to support them along the way as we continue to implement rigorous standards.

As teachers, we know the strengths and weaknesses of assessments. Standardized testing can greatly benefit students, teachers, and schools by providing meaningful feedback about where students are succeeding and where they need additional support. At the same time, we must ensure that assessments are aligned with curricula, accurately capture student learning, and that the results are shared in a timely manner so that they can be used to inform instruction. While standardized testing is a useful tool to assess student learning, it should be used in concert with other tools, such as portfolios and more informal assessments, to track academic progress.

We believe in holding schools, school systems, leaders, and ourselves accountable for the progress of all students. Assessment data could be used to inform professional development, identifying areas where we need support and where we are strong. This would allow for more targeted training, as well as be helpful in identifying accomplished teachers to lead that training.

High-quality, well-aligned assessments are an important source of data that can assist us in identifying where our students need support, as well as where we can improve.

Together, we can offer the kind of deeper learning that allows both students and teachers to grow to their full potential.

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