Expert: Tracy Gardner, Chief Assessment Officer, New Meridian

Question: What do you think testing will look like 20 years from now? What are the emerging trends that you believe are most likely to endure?

Answer: I see the pendulum shifting again. States are looking at new assessment models that allow more choices for local education agencies. I see performance-based assessment, through-course assessment, and formative assessment making new strides. Adaptive assessments are also gaining ground in the K-12 space.

During the last 25 years, I have seen performance-based assessments replaced with more traditional machine-scorable items that are more reliable and efficient, but now I am seeing a trend back to more authentic assessment again, at least in some states.

If we expand to include trends outside traditional public education, I also see content standards based on classic and ancient literature, poetry, science, and the arts. For example, much of the CCSS Appendix B Recommended Reading List is based on modern authors, but classical education approaches that are being utilized in many public charter schools, private schools, and homeschools focus on classic liberal arts philosophies and thinkers. It will be interesting to see if these classical education models make way into the modern, traditional public-school curriculum.

Regardless of curriculum choices, I think in the next 20 years, we will continue to see more adaptive assessments and item types that have gaming and virtual reality capabilities. I do hope we see a movement toward using multiple assessment measures that are used to create profiles for students. Every psychometrician knows that one test cannot do all things, so the more that we can move toward triangulation of evidence by collecting multiple sources of data, the better I think we can equip students, parents, teachers and educational decision makers with meaningful information to support more informed decision making.

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