Giving Compass' Take:

• Kristen Huff calls for a new approach to assessing student progress in schools, with current goal-setting strategies reproducing inequities.

• How can we revise student assessment technologies to promote equity? What are you doing today to promote more equitable measures of student progress in schools?

• Learn more about how educators are currently collecting and using data in schools.

Each fall, teachers return to classrooms to students with varying levels of preparation for the new grade in which they find themselves. Sadly, students of color are often the least likely to be prepared for grade-level work.

This year, those inequities are poised to balloon as students who entered the pandemic behind may have had little or no formal schooling since March.

Against that backdrop, technology-enabled assessments will play an outsized role in diagnosing student progress and prescribing a course of educational “treatment.” With good reason: When educators understand where students start the year, they can create on-ramps and supports to help them grasp the concepts that will lift them to the next grade level.

But relegating recommendations to algorithms and technology risks exacerbating the very inequities it is intended to address.

As it turns out, the problem is that nearly all of the interim assessments used for setting student goals report only normative measures of growth, which compare a student’s progress to their peers, rather than how they are performing versus their grade-level expectations. It is rooted in a testing paradigm that reflects the now defunct concept that students fall along a Bell Curve—that some will always be behind—rather than a belief that all students can reach proficiency.

If you are a student who is performing at or above grade level, setting goals in relative terms can be innocuous enough. But when considered in isolation, such measures can have the insidious effect of holding back students who start the year already behind. Replacing grade-level achievement goals with relative growth goals undermine the mission of equity that our schools promise to uphold.

Read the full article about reevaluating student progress in schools by Kristen Huff at EdSurge.