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The Connected Learning Coalition, six associations representing over 250,000 educators, affirms that “Assessing progress is part of learning.” The CLC Principles for Learning: A Foundation for Transforming K-12 Education emphasize the importance of formative assessment that contributes to teachers’ knowledge of student learning, students’ awareness of their own progress, and teachers’ and students’ knowledge of what to maintain or change to foster learning. Multiple ways of reading student progress, done over time and incorporated into the learning process, are essential for an accurate assessment of what students know and are able to do.

Assessment, however, has been sidetracked in recent years by the demands of accountability. Although valid and reliable large-scale assessments can address two of the National Research Council’s three purposes of assess­ment, measuring individual achievement and evaluating programs, our associations call on the two federally funded state consortia developing assessments related to the Common Core Standards to include and emphasize the third purpose, to assist learning. We advocate for forma­tive assessments administered when teachers deem useful and added to teacher-generated formative assessments as essential sources of information for teaching and learning. We believe the most important opportunity today for as­sessment is providing immediate formative information to teachers and learners. We believe this broader understand­ing of assessment offers the potential for more effective personalized learning.

Coalition members are deeply concerned that the pressure for a new accountability system by 2013-14 may provoke a rush to a system that reduces time for teaching and learning and homogenizes curricula and teaching methods in order to preserve comparability across school systems. This outcome would have an invidious effect on the very elements, such as differentiated teaching strategies, use of instructional technology to increase learning, and continuous adjustment of methods and curricula to fill learning gaps, that are commonly associated with student gains in successful school systems around the world. We must avoid sacrificing education quality on the altar of high stakes accountability. To effect a transition from the overemphasis on testing to effective assessment practices that support student learning and school improvement, the Connected Learning Coalition recommends that we

1. Highlight the central role of teacher teams in developing and revising curricula, evidence-based teaching strategies, school structures, and assessments designed to advance student learning and to engage them in owning their learning

2. Include the analysis of cumulative information about student learning through examination of authentic student work

3. Generate assessments that no longer silo subject areas but accentuate the cross-disciplinary skills of literacy, habits of inquiry, problem solving, collaboration, and the use of technologies for learning and generating knowledge

4. Support development of the culture, critical technology, and professional learning and support within schools and districts that are necessary to inform instruction and improve learning

The Connected Learning Coalition with its breadth of subject area expertise stands ready to contribute to a practice of assessment that honors teaching and learning and points to continuous improvement of teaching and learning in schools across our country.