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Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards
When teachers treat students as serious learners and serve as coaches rather than judges, students come to understand and apply standards of good scientific practice (NRC, 1996).
For teachers to implement authentic and meaningful assessment activities in the classroom, they need access to resources within the school (materials, equipment, media and technology) and outside of the school (researchers, scientists, other specialists and community members). Teachers also need support from school and district administration, and understanding from parents about new assessment practices. School leaders must structure and sustain suitable support systems for the work that teachers do (NRC, 1996). Strong commitment from district administration to provide support for teachers can have a profound effect on the effectiveness of assessment reform (Aschbacher, 1993).
Teachers not only need administrative support to design and successfully implement ongoing assessments in their classrooms, they also need support from administration in helping parents to understand why their assessment practices might look different. Many parents may want their children to be taught and tested as they were in school —rote memory and standardized tests—and teachers must be supported and prepared to explain and justify why they are assessing children differently (Aschbacher, 1993).
Colleges and universities need to make classroom assessment an integral part of their teacher-education programs. Just as classroom teachers can gain tremendously from seeing and discussing exemplary practice, so too can preservice teachers. Currently, only 14 of the 50 U.S. states explicitly require competence in assessment as a condition to be licensed to teach. Only 3 of the 50 states demand competence in assessment to be licensed as a principal. There is not a single certification examination in use in any context or at any level in the United States today that verifies competence in classroom assessment for teachers or administrators (Stiggins, 1999). Therefore, colleges of education, who naturally prepare their graduates for certification in their state, see no need to offer the classroom-assessment training that teachers need to do their jobs. It has been this way for decades. This will not change until policy makers factor an expectation of assessment literacy into teacher and principal qualifications. Improving assessment so that it truly works in the service of learning calls for