This expanded version of the 2007 Presidential Address for the American Educational Research Association approaches changes in assessment and accountability from the perspective of achieving balance. The author identifies unresolved conceptual and practical issues in the use of assessment in the schools and describes approaches intended to mitigate problems or improve practice. An example is given from formative assessment research that integrates some of these approaches (Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, at the University of California, Los Angeles). International examples of performance and assessment are also reviewed. The author suggests that secondary school assessment be modified to focus students on acquiring concrete Qualifications that certify important accomplishments, with a wide choice of Qualification areas. She argues that using concrete accomplishments and restructuring tests will help schools and their students to regain needed balance.
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