Assessment that works: New book co-edited by Amelia Gotwals

September 24, 2020

After COVID-19 forced an extended break from school, learning time for the nation’s students has become even more valuable.

So how can teachers determine what their students need most without time-consuming testing?

A new book published this month provides practical examples that educators can use to integrate high-quality assessment practices into their teaching. Good assessment practices are becoming more important than ever, says co-editor Amelia Wenk Gotwals.

Photo of Amelia Wenk Gotwals
Amelia Wenk Gotwals

“There’s a lot of concern about how we can best support all of our students, regardless of where they begin the year,” said Gotwals, associate professor at Michigan State University. “Because our kids have lost a lot of time in school, we really need to capitalize on the time we have with them. Pausing for extended periods of time to complete assessments that don’t provide the teachers and students with important information will actually hinder the learning process and exacerbate inequitable outcomes.”

The new book, Assessment Education: Bridging Research, Theory, and Practice to Promote Equity and Student Learning, summarizes the latest research in digestible language and provides examples showing how strategies have been used in real school settings.

Gotwals and co-editors Cara Jackson of Bellwether Education Partners and Beth Tarasawa of NWEA were part of the National Taskforce on Assessment Education, which focused on fostering national dialogue about appropriate uses of assessment and addressing critical gaps in assessment education.

The book, published by Rowman & Littlefield, also includes a foreword from renowned classroom assessment expert Rick Stiggins. Stiggins is an alumnus of the MSU College of Education, where he established an endowment intended to improve how the nation’s teachers are prepared to use assessments.

Book cover image for Assessment Education

“This book provides an excellent summary of the lessons we have all teamed up to learn over the past thirty years,” Stiggins wrote. “The authors detail achievements in research and practice to cause, not merely measure, student learning.”

Each of the seven chapters begins with a strategy for using assessment, followed by case studies written by teachers and administrators.

“Assessment is often seen as being punitive or a way only to evaluate students,” said Gotwals. “However, the book provides on-the-ground examples of how teachers and districts are implementing research-based strategies to support learning on a day-to-day basis.”

“We hope this provides a vision for other educators and how they might implement these approaches in their own contexts.”

Related projects

Gotwals collaborated with the Michigan Department of Education by studying the effectiveness of a teacher professional development program called Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators, or FAME. The related Science Formative Assessment Guide for educators will be published soon.

With fellow MSU Associate Professor Tanya Wright, Gotwals is developing assessments teachers can use while integrating science and literacy concepts with early elementary students. Learn more about the SOLID Start project.