As the nation adapts to a new normal regarding how to live with COVID-19, educators look for ways to better understand what students know and what supports students need right now to succeed.

The perspectives and resources in this Spotlight support educators in understanding what assessments could prove to be valuable at this time and how educators might expand their concept of assessment to include the authentic experiences of diverse groups of students.

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Assessment: Myths and Opportunities

studentsSenior Research Associate Molly Faulkner-Bond has built her career around understanding and improving policies, assessments, and programs for students identified as English learners and amplifying that knowledge for the benefit of all students and educators.

In a recent Insights post, she describes and then counters the four following common myths that underlie some of the concerns about culturally and linguistically responsive assessment practices.

  • Myth: Current assessments are culturally neutral or do not reflect any specific culture.
  • Myth: Truly responsive assessments would need to be differentiated and tailored to each group or would need to reflect multiple cultures on each test, which would divide students or make everyone feel alienated at some point.
  • Myth: Diversifying language and culture on a test will add unnecessary length and/or complexity and may thus differentially affect vulnerable groups such as students who are English learners.
  • Myth: Making large-scale standardized assessments culturally and linguistically responsive is not possible or advisable.

Learn why culturally and linguistically responsive assessment practices are so valuable and why creating them isn’t as hard as many think.

Assessment and Accountability Systems Through the Pandemic

studentsWhile the pandemic has exacerbated assessment and measurement challenges, those challenges are not insurmountable.

Andrew Latham, a national leader in educational assessment for more than two decades, is the Senior Managing Director responsible for WestEd’s assessment design, development, research, and innovation portfolios.

In this post, he explores how the pandemic has impacted state assessment and accountability systems and how much faith educators can place in assessment data gathered from non-representative samples of students who have had widely varying learning opportunities.

Find out what lessons WestEd’s assessment experts learned from the pandemic and the implications for the future.

Making Decisions Using Assessment Data in the Time of COVID-19

Making Decisions: Using Assessment Data in the Time of COVID-19 and BeyondUnderstanding the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on student learning is fundamental for developing responsive supports that address the needs of all students, particularly those most affected by the disruptions to learning in the 2019–20 and 2020–21 school years.

Meaningful assessment data are essential for policymakers and stakeholders designating funding and determining eligibility requirements for programs that can impact student learning. And parents, educators, and the public need information about student learning to support their students’ academic progress.

Written by WestEd’s Jessica Arnold and Eric Crane, this recent Knowledge Brief answers timely questions about how to think about assessment information at this unique moment. The brief also offers suggestions and considerations for using assessment data to inform decisions about teaching and learning.

Read more to learn about assessment data use during the pandemic and beyond.

Read and Subscribe to the WestEd E-Bulletin to Access More Assessment Resources


Read and subscribe to the WestEd E-Bulletin to access more assessment resources, plus updates about professional development events, award-winning research, career opportunities, and much more.

Topics include:

  • Formative Insights: Assessment for Learning
  • Student and Teacher Perspectives on Formative Assessment
  • Assessment Leadership for Equitable Student Outcomes
  • A Strengths-Based Approach to Assessment Rubrics

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