Quality assessment is a process of inquiry. It requires gathering information and setting conditions so that the classroom, school, and community become centers of inquiry where students, teachers, and other stakeholders can examine their learning—individually and collaboratively—and find ways to improve their practice.
In Fall 2007, the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association appointed a Joint Task Force on Assessment to update the Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing, originally published by the two organizations in 1994. The revised document aims to improve the quality of assessment by providing standards to guide decisions about assessing the teaching and learning of literacy in 21st-century classrooms.
The standards rest on understandings about assessment, language, and literacy generated by research over the past 40 years. A brief conceptual framework is presented in the introduction. Each standard, accessible from the links below, opens with a brief explanatory paragraph, followed by an expanded discussion of the standard. The document also includes brief case studies that make the implications of the standards concrete.
1. The interests of the student are paramount in assessment.
2. The teacher is the most important agent of assessment.
3. The primary purpose of assessment is to improve teaching and learning.
4. Assessment must reflect and allow for critical inquiry into curriculum and instruction.
5. Assessment must recognize and reflect the intellectually and socially complex nature of reading and writing and the important roles of school, home, and society in literacy development.
6. Assessment must be fair and equitable.
7. The consequences of an assessment procedure are the first and most important consideration in establishing the validity of the assessment.
8. The assessment process should involve multiple perspectives and sources of data.
9. Assessment must be based in the local school learning community, including active and essential participation of families and community members.
10. All stakeholders in the educational community—students, families, teachers, administrators, policymakers, and the public—must have an equal voice in the development, interpretation, and reporting of assessment information.
11. Families must be involved as active, essential participants in the assessment process.
Case Studies 1 & 2: National Monitoring of Education
Case Studies 3 & 4: School and Classroom Assessments: Response to Intervention in the United States
Members of the IRA–NCTE Joint Task Force on Assessment