Assessment with the end in mind

John Hattie in a piece for Education Week:

The major purpose of assessment in schools should be to provide interpretative information to teachers and school leaders about their impact on students, so that these educators have the best information possible about what steps to take with instruction and how they need to change and adapt…
We hardly need more data—schools are awash with data. Instead, we need better interpretations of these data. When we built the New Zealand school assessment system 15 years ago, we started by designing the reports, rather than the tests. The reports were piloted to ensure we met our own two criteria:

• Did the teachers and school leaders interpret the reports correctly? (And if not, we needed to change the reports.)

• Was there a consequential action from the reports?

Starting with the reports that teachers need is a phenomenal way to think about building assessments. If teachers can't easily use the results, they aren't going to make better instructional decisions, and the assessment is pointless.

When teachers and communities complain about over-testing, they are really questioning the cost/benefit ratio. If teachers, parents, and students don't get value out, they shouldn't be forced to put the time in to testing.