In October, Amelia Wenk Gotwals, associate professor of teacher education, joined a new national Task Force on Assessment Education for Teachers. The task force is in collaboration with the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA).
The impetus for the project came after a conversation Gotwals had with Rick Stiggins, MSU alumnus and founder of the Assessment Training Institute; Kelly Goodrich, senior director of policy and advocacy at NWEA; and Susan Bobbit-Nolen of University of Washington at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education annual meeting in February and March, 2015.
“We did an invited panel presentation about assessment literacy at the annual meeting,” Gotwals said, “and we knew it [the conversation] had to continue.”
The task force was born with the goals of defining assessment literacy, gathering and growing supports in developing assessment literacy and trying to broaden teachers’ and administrators’ perspectives on the topic of assessment.
“There is a wide range in the types of assessments,” Gotwals said. “There are embedded and formative assessments—things like projects or the discourse between teachers and students to determine what students know. There are summative classroom assessments, like tests or quizzes. There are also interim or benchmark assessments, from the districts, and then there are state-level and national assessments as well. We want to think about all of these types, and then also think about how pre-service and in-service teachers and administrators can become literate about all of these issues.”
The task force will look at a range of stakeholders, including pre-service and in-service teacher groups, administrators, students and parents. Gotwals is very interested in examining the entry point into the progression for developing assessment literacy, how teachers are prepared to become assessment literate and what it means to use assessment for student learning.
The group is currently comprised of 22 scholars from around the country—including Goodrich, Bobbit-Nolen and Gotwals—who have an interest in improving assessment literacy for all of these groups. Stiggins will serve as one of three key advisors for the group alongside Terri Akey, co-director of the Center for Research, Evaluation and Assessment at Education Northwest and Bernice Stafford, most recently vice president of Implementation and Education Partnerships at Evans Newton Incorporated and Board Chair at WestEd.
The objectives for the group don’t stop there. At the next meeting in January, they will add a new element to the mix: policymakers.
“We’re going to look at how we can start having conversations with policymakers. How can we talk about the need for quality assessments at all levels?” Gotwals continued. “We want to be able to create more balanced funding and resources to spread across all types of assessments, not just large-scale assessments, which are not as useful for student learning.”
The task force announcement follows the recent launch of NWEA’s Assessment Literacy Initiative, which aims to advance teacher preparation and professional development in the use of assessments to promote teaching and learning.
For more, visit assessmentliteracy.org.
Rick Stiggins, Ph.D. ’72 (Educational Psychology), recently created a new endowment at MSU funding research to improve teacher preparation in assessment. Learn more on how Stiggins is a “champion for change,” at givingto.msu.edu.