Assessments: The Real Winner of the Decade Challenge?

December 12, 2019

If you’ve spent any time on Facebook recently, you’ve probably seen posts from people participating in the latest trend – the “Decade Challenge”. People are encouraged to post a current photo (from 2019) side-by-side with a photo from a decade ago (2009). There are the rare examples of people who have aged gracefully – or even look better 10 years later – but the point is to demonstrate change.

As I scrolled through my feed looking at these Decade Challenge posts, I couldn’t help but relate the Challenge back to a different example: Assessment. Talk about change in the last 10 years.

Today’s educators are faced with more challenges than ever before. But thanks to advances in technology over the last decade, the printing of mass bubble sheets, test packets and manual scoring aren’t among them. Educators have benefited from efficiency, time savings, security and analytical insight that the shift to online assessment has afforded.

In the past decade, new technologies have transformed assessment from scary bubble sheets to powerful digital experiences. Modern day educators are using “assessments” as an everyday tool to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. Yes, standardized tests are still very real, but with new technology (like the Incite® Assessment & Reporting Platform), educators are forcing a cultural shift around assessment. Here are just a few examples:

  • Classroom Management – When educators have access to technology that allows them to create assessments on the fly (or utilize pre-existing assessments) and then administer those assessments electronically, teachers can use those results to inform and personalize instruction. We’ve even seen Incite teachers project (anonymously) assessment results onto their classroom’s smartboard as they proctor assessments so that they can see which standards or concepts need additional instruction and immediately address them. With the right technology and in the right context, formative assessments are powerful classroom management and personalized learning tools.
  • Data – Data is one of the most significant byproducts of technology. “Big data” and “business intelligence” are buzzwords that have made their way into education over the last decade. Thanks to new technology, educators have immediate access to more data than ever before. In the context of assessment, data can now be used to guide the instructional process and paint a picture of both progress and proficiency. Assessment technologies provide comparative and longitudinal data that empowers educators to confidently intervene when data indicates it. Indeed, access to educational data, and the ability to pull together data from multiple sources, has significantly improved in the past decade, providing educators with a bigger picture, and the ability to make data-driven instructional decisions for the betterment of students.
  • Flexibility and Personalized Learning – While teachers may not have a say in mandated tests, assessment technology is paving the way for creativity and flexibility in summative assessments. We love this story of a professor who brought student choice into science assessments, allowing students to choose how to demonstrate that they had mastered certain topics. Learning styles (and testing styles) vary based on each student and new assessment technology is allowing teachers to personalize how students show mastery. With our Test Score Entry Assessment feature, the Incite Platform allows teachers to enter a test score and date administered for assessments conducted outside of the platform (such as performance-based tasks). Scores are entered as a percent or points and can be incorporated for reporting purposes.

Sure there is still discussion around different test types. The debate between growth versus proficiency is hotter than ever, and new technologies have introduced an additional debate: computer adaptive versus educator-created tests. But as an assessment platform provider, we are proud to be a part of the cultural shift surrounding assessment. Significant improvements have been made to assessment in the past decade and we think the best is yet to come!