Balanced Assessment Systems


Purpose of Assessment

Assessments are typically designed to collect evidence for one of the following purposes: to predict learning, evaluate outcomes, diagnose, 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 provides a window into equitable learning opportunities across the state. 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.

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

A cohesive and strategic system of assessments has clear purpose, guides instruction and curriculum, produces useful data for monitoring student mastery 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.  


Assessment Pyramid Thumbnail