What is the purpose of Assessment?
Educator and scholar Rick DuFour once defined the core mission of education as ensuring that students learn, rather than merely being taught. This raises the questions of what students should learn and how to determine whether they have learned it. State standardized tests and similar assessments help answer these questions by assessing student learning. Since the 1980s, assessment of learning has been a key element in educational accountability. Because education policy-makers use assessments of learning as a kind of report card by which to grade the performance of individual campuses and entire school systems, educators and students receive enormous pressure to perform well on these tests. The federal No Child Left Behind law, passed in 2001, mandates school improvement requirements for campuses and school systems that fall short of state performance standards.