Assessments that Make Sense

Carol Tomlinson writes in Educational Leadership magazine,

“I began by seeing assessment as judging performance, then as informing teaching, and finally as informing learning. In reality, all those perspectives play a role in effective teaching. The key is where we place the emphasis. Certainly a teacher and his or her students need to know who reaches (and exceeds) important learning targets—thus summative assessment, or assessment of learning, has a place in teaching. Robust learning generally requires robust teaching, and both diagnostic and formative assessments, or assessments for learning, are catalysts for better teaching. In the end, however, when assessment is seen as learning—for students as well as for teachers—it becomes most informative and generative for students and teachers alike.”

How do you use assessments to inform teaching and learning? How do you ensure assessments are aligned to learning targets? What are your concerns for the next generation of common core-aligned assessments?

ASCD Express is looking for short, 600–1,000-word essays on the theme “Assessments that Make Sense.” Guidelines for submissions are here; please send us your submissions to by April 1, 2013.

Laura Varlas is an ASCD project manager in publishing, and a graduate student in the secondary education: English/language arts program at George Washington University.