Balanced Assessment Systems


Purpose of Assessment

Assessments are typically designed to collect evidence for one of the following purposes: to indicate students who may need additional support before the end of the school year, evaluate programs and policies, summarize individual achievement, or provide information useful to instruction. There is no single assessment that can be used to support all purposes. 

The purpose and use of assessment differs at each system level.

  • The state level of assessment serves an evaluative purpose as it is used in the accountability system to ensure all students have access to rigorous, standards-based content across the state and can be used by district and school leaders to evaluate curriculua and instructional program alignment to standards. This information is broader in scope than the information produced at the classroom level, where the learning takes place.
  • Districts administer additional assessments across classrooms or schools to monitor progress and/or allocate resources.
  • Teachers use assessments at the classroom level to guide instruction and communicate learning with students and families.

Together, information from each level is coherently linked by the learning expectations defined in the standards.  

A cohesive system of assessments has clear purpose, guides instruction and curriculum, produces useful data for monitoring student proficiency of learning targets, and continuously informs decision making.

  • Assessments should be thoughtfully and strategically selected to support a range of decisions in classrooms, schools, and districts.
  • A random and disconnected collection of assessments with no guiding purpose promotes incoherence, inefficiency, and over-testing. 
  • Assessments should work together in a cohesive system that produces data documenting student achievement towards meaningful learning targets.  

This criteria for balanced assessment systems along with the types of assessments described are outlined in the infographics linked below.


Assessment Pyramid Thumbnail







Components of a Balanced, Comprehensive Assessment System Infographic (Assessment Types) - 1/10/2023

Criteria for a Balanced Comprehensive Assessment System Infographic - 1/10/2023