A balanced assessment system will help us recover from the gap in testing caused by the pandemic.

The pandemic was devastating to American education. Millions of students disappeared from school altogether. Millions more had their education disrupted. A two-year halt in assessment has left education leaders without the critical data needed to understand student performance and where they most need support.

Yet in every crisis lies opportunity. This can be the pivotal moment that transforms our national approach to education and accountability. The disruption allows us to rethink assessment and accountability models and correct the one-dimensional practices and systemic limitations that have set in over decades. With federal funds flowing and states ready to embrace change, we can stoke innovation, expand equity, close widespread opportunity gaps, inspire student engagement and promote a more holistic view of student learning.

The time has come to do the hard work. A balanced assessment system – also called through-course, or through-year – can get us there.

A Balanced Assessment System

Today’s assessment systems are often disconnected from student learning. Historically, assessment is viewed as something we do to students, not for students. To harness the opportunity that lies before us, assessment must better align to the taught curriculum and provide real instructional utility.

New Meridian is pioneering a next-generation, through-year diagnostic assessment system that does exactly that. It will inform instruction, support a cumulative measure of mastery aligned to standards-based learning progressions, and feed the information needs at every level of our system, from the classroom to the state capital.

This Balanced Assessment System, created in partnership with state leaders, will administer a series of diagnostic testlets in math and English language arts throughout the year. This provides near-immediate feedback and a constant stream of useful data. Testlet scores can then be aggregated to realize a year-end cumulative score that indicates proficiency.

The result is a coherent, comprehensive and continuous system of measurement that puts students first and meets information needs at every level.

Image of a classroom with students raising their hands

“This is a good time to remember that with every challenge comes opportunity. With federal funding flowing in abundance and states and districts ready to make major changes, we have the chance to boldly re-imagine our educational models — including assessment.”

Arthur VanderVeen, CEO

White Paper: ‘Now Is the Time to Reimagine Assessments’

Download New Meridian’s framework for envisioning next-generation assessment systems. CEO Arthur VanderVeen puts forth five principles to diversify our measures of student learning while maintaining comparability essential to equity. Learn more about:

Designing for coherence across state, district, and classroom assessment models

Maintaining an overarching commitment to equity through comparability

Promoting and researching more holistic views of student learning

Allowing for greater student agency

Developing score interpretation models and data systems that reinforce coherence and usability

A group of educators discussing balanced assessment syestems

Overcoming Barriers to Progress

There are many barriers to building a new system of assessment for American schools, from policy work to marketplace innovation. But perhaps the most pervasive are the technical challenges that plague almost every state, and the limited resources and expertise available to address those challenges.

New Meridian has worked with states to break down this barrier, providing innovative solutions that are implemented by expert staff with decades in the business. Our team integrates seamlessly and provides the experience needed to carry out flawless administrations across grades, schools, districts and the entire state.

Through-Year vs. Interim Assessments - What’s the Difference?


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