Teachers Launch On-Line Rating System For Academic Assessments

Teachers Launch On-Line Rating System For Academic Assessments

New website, Assessment Advisor: Reviews Powered by Teachers, features classroom teachers’ opinions about various tests

BOSTON – As education officials and policy makers continue to spend an estimated $3 billion annually on K-12 testing, a new group of “consumers” has stepped forward to rate the effectiveness of various assessments: classroom teachers.

A group of urban public school teachers from across the country has launched Assessment Advisor: Reviews Powered by Teachers (www.assessment-advisor.org), an online review site similar to Yelp or TripAdvisor, but focused on classroom assessments. The teachers, all affiliated with the national non-profit organization Teach Plus, developed the project to address the absence of teacher voice in the selection of academic assessments. The site is designed to provide policy makers with teacher perspectives on the effectiveness of various testing products on a number of measures, including alignment with the curriculum and usefulness in tracking student progress.

“Assessment Advisor enables real teachers to write and read honest feedback about the full array of assessments,” said Andrew Vega, a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow and T3 teacher at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Boston. “For the first time ever, we have a way of communicating with our colleagues about which tests truly work – or don’t work – in our classrooms.”

Last week, the site was formally launched in an event at the University of Massachusetts Club in Boston featuring Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester and Teach Plus CEO and Founder Celine Coggins. Teach Plus convened the meeting with Commissioner Chester to provide a forum for teachers from Greater Boston to comment on a new statewide teacher evaluation system that Massachusetts will adopt next year, which includes the use of multiple measures of teacher effectiveness. Like other states across the country, Massachusetts is revamping its educator evaluation system in part to comply with the requirements of the federal Race to the Top competition.

Said Commissioner Chester, “Teacher feedback about which assessments work will be invaluable to me as we work to better-support teachers and provide all students with a high-quality education.”

“Five-star teaching requires five-star assessments,” said Dr. Coggins. “Teachers are becoming more and more data-savvy, and Assessment Advisor is a valuable new resource to help teachers find assessments to tailor instruction to their students’ needs.”

Marta Magnus, a middle school art teacher in Lowell, MA, encouraged fellow educators across the country to share their perspectives on tests used in classrooms, noting that each review can be written in five minutes or less. Ms. Magnus was one of nearly 40 teachers who began working on the project last summer. (Read her blog entry about Assessment Advisor, or watch a video of teachers talking about the value of the site.)

This site comes at a time when student data is in high demand. Twenty-five states are implementing policies that include measures of student growth as one component of teacher evaluation, and at least 14 states have plans to report student achievement data on their teacher education programs. Assessment Advisor includes teacher reviews of hundreds of assessments used in thousands of classrooms.

Teachers who complete an on-line review are entered into a monthly drawing to win a Kindle Fire.