confronts and works through the inevitable challenges that arise. Only the teacher has the opportunity to probe beneath the one-word response to ascertain how deeply a student understands the concepts she is trying to teach.
Still, we must learn how to make teacher judgments trustworthy. Many other countries have reached this stage in their assessment systems, but such an outcome takes sustained work. For one thing, teachers need more time than they are usually afforded to work in collaboration with other teachers to hone their ability and consistency in judging student work (moderation). Furthermore, for the necessary levels of public confidence and trust in the process to develop, the procedures devised and employed when the teachers' role in summative judgments is increased must be made transparent. School administrators and policy makers, as well as teachers themselves, have a responsibility to keep the public informed.
But these goals, even in the ideal, do not lead to elimination of all external tests (standardized or not) or other forms of accountability that are not based as much on teachers' direct knowledge of the student. Rather, a way must be found of combining and maintaining consistency between the results of external tests and those of well-informed and moderated teacher judgments. Above all, the total assessment system must be complementary, with each part supporting the other, with each providing distinctive information, and with all parts aligned with the development of higher standards.