How Can Student Assessments Provide More Authentic Results?

COVID-19 dramatically changed the ways students engage in learning, but what about the way they are assessed?

Erin Lomax

Last year, the pandemic challenged educators in unprecedented ways to adapt new methods to ensure students continue to learn. It also prompted Erin Lomax, Ph.D., a Westat Senior Research Associate, and Cara Cahalan Laitusis, Ph.D., Principal Research Scientist at Princeton’s ETS, to re-examine how students are assessed. Together they highlighted an approach for a more equitable, engaging, and authentic means for measuring the achievement of all students, regardless of background, language, or disabilities. Their recommendations are detailed in the recently published issue brief, Are We There Yet? Universal Design of Assessments (PDF).

Cara Cahalan Laitusis

In the brief, the authors suggest using a new Universal Design for Learning framework that may remove barriers for all students participating in assessments. This would involve offering them more choice and flexibility in the assessment process by providing multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression. This flexibility, the authors write, would be vital to more accurately measuring individual achievements and better connecting the results to instructional planning.

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