For nearly a decade, states have collected annual assessment data to satisfy the requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). States meet this requirement by administering once-per-year tests, typically in the spring, targeting specific grades and subjects. Test scores are used for school accountability, and in some cases for teacher- or even student-level accountability. Educators often question the value of summative end-of-year assessments, arguing that a single score cannot fully capture student performance, scores arrive too late to be useful, the information provided is not specific enough to be useful for guiding instruction, and preparing for and administering the test takes away valuable learning time.
Certain states have implemented interim assessment systems that are better aligned with instructional practice. For example, Florida recently announced it will replace its statewide summative assessment program with a series of interim assessments referred to as a “progress monitoring,” and the New Hampshire Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE) system is embedded into routine instruction and administered when it is most relevant to the curriculum. Scores generated through PACE are immediately available after each assessment element, and students’ summative annual performance determinations are determined by aggregating the results of multiple interim assessments.