Embedding TE items directly in instructional content allows assessments to match instruction in a finely tuned way that hasn’t really been possible in the past. Assessments can be built that reflect the steps that a teacher wants students to master in acquiring a specific larger skill. Say, for instance, that the focus of a lesson is the numerical fluency skills that will enable a student to easily calculate a problem such as correct change from $20.00 for a $4.30 purchase. Common Core emphasizes the importance of not only correctly calculating that $15.70 is due, but also completely understanding and being able to explain why the calculation works out that way. An explanation might go something like the following:
- $4.30 is $.70 less than $5.00
- $5.00 is $15.00 less than $20.00
- Therefore $4.30 is $15.00 + $.70 = $15.70 less than $20.00
It has long been recognized that such assessments are an important part of teaching. Recent technological advances make it possible to gather valid and reliable data of the sort that would have previously required standardized testing while not diverging from the focus of instruction. Assessment data that informs decisions and allows for easy tracking of outcomes can flow naturally out of instruction rather than being a distraction.
John Bergan, Ph.D.
Vice President Research and Development