Friday | March 1, 2013


Leo Casey, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute

Achieving A Sensible Approach to Testing and Accountability

Daniel Koretz, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education, Harvard University

Randi Weingarten, President, Albert Shanker Institute & American Federation of Teachers

In the wake of No Child Left Behind, the demands on educational testing are heavier than ever – from diagnosis to instructional improvement to gate-keeping to accountability for students, teachers, and schools. The unfolding problems with these often conflicting demands on assessment make it clear that that the limitations and proper uses of student performance data are not well understood by many policymakers. What would a useful assessment system look like at the state and local levels? What are the conceptual and practical issues that must be confronted to achieve such a system?

The Promise and Peril of the Common Core Assessments

David K. Cohen, Professor of Education and Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy, University of Michigan; Visiting Professor of Education, Harvard University; Member, Albert Shanker Institute Board of Directors

William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor of Education, Michigan State University; Director, U.S. Teacher Education Study in Mathematics; Member, Albert Shanker Institute Board of Directors

It is much more difficult to devise an accurate measure of what students have learned – as opposed to what they simply know. But increasing demands for teacher, school, and student accountability mean that this is exactly what is required of the new Common Core assessment systems. In this light, the lack of defined Common Core curriculum frameworks, from which content can be sampled in the development of test items, represents a major stumbling block. So too is uneven implementation and lack of clarity over how newly developed assessments systems and newly developed assessment-based accountability systems will interact and relate to each other. As with any complex and far-reaching new system, some implementation problems are inevitable. Can enough of the serious implementation issues be anticipated – and addressed – to hold support for the Common Core together?

Performance Assessments: Complements to the Common Core

Claire E. Sylvan, Founding Executive Director, Internationals Network for Public Schools

Ann Cook, Co-Director, New York City’s Urban Academy; Co-chair, New York Performance Standards Consortium

What do we know about viable alternatives to high-stakes standardized tests for holding students and teachers accountable? In New York, schools in the Performance Standards Consortium have devised a system of assessment which consists of eight components including alignment with state standards, professional development, external review, and formative and summative data. Consortium schools already must document how their work meets (or exceeds) the New York State Regents standards. How can this system of commencement-level performance-based assessment tasks be used to demonstrate mastery of the Common Core standards?

Preparing for the Common Core Assessments: What Is Needed?


Valencia Mayfield, Assistant Superintendent, Academic Services, ABC Unified School District

Richard Saldana, Peer Assistance and Support (PASS) Coordinator, ABC Federation of Teachers


Valen Cayetano, Director of Assessments, District of Columbia Public Schools, Office of Data and Accountability

Kimberly Myles, Special Education Team, Options Public Charter School.

This school year, both the Smarter-Balanced and the PARCC consortia will begin to conduct pilots and field tests of innovative test item types, individual items in different content areas, and online testing systems and protocols. How have districts, including these early adopters, begun to prepare? How have they been translating the demand of these new systems into curriculum, professional development, and other assessment tools? What are the greatest challenges and where have the best resources and supports been found?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Leo Casey, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute