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New report co-authored by James Pellegrino aims to improve Common Core testing

LSRI Co-director James Pellegrino and an influential group of the nation’s leading education experts are aiming to change testing as we know it to help promote deeper learning of the 21st skills that students need to succeed in today’s economy.

To do that, the group has developed criteria for high-quality assessment that educators can use to help them implement the Common Core State Standards. It marks the first time researchers have outlined recommendations for evaluating performance under the new standards.

“The three R’s of reading, writing and arithmetic are important, but they are just the baseline for success in the 21st century,” Pellegrino said. “Assessments are the lever that drives deeper curriculum, so they must be much richer than those we have now.”

Common Core offers an increased focus on deeper learning, and emphasizes the ability to analyze, synthesize, and explain ideas. The standards are considered more rigorous than most districts have been accustomed to.

The report, Criteria for High-Quality Assessments, features five core criteria for states, districts, and the public to use to improve how they build systems to measure effectiveness. The criteria include: examining higher-order thinking skills and providing “high-fidelity” evaluation of them, such as through researching and presenting arguments.

So far, 45 states have adopted the standards, and most will be assessing their K to 12 students against these higher standards in the 2014-15 school year.

The report was presented this week at the National Conference on Student Assessment, an event organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers. CCSSO led the development of the Common Core State Standards. The report was published by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, the Center for Research on Student Standards and Testing at the University of California at Los Angeles, and LSRI.