Ed-Tech Policy

ASCD, District, Company Team Up on Assessments

By Laura Greifner — April 24, 2007 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development has teamed up with the defense contractor and technology company Northrop Grumman and the Fairfax County, Va., school district to build an online tool for schools to conduct formative assessments.

Formative assessments—which are administered throughout a school year to help teachers modify and improve instruction based on results—are attracting an increasing amount of interest among school districts and educators. (“Chiefs to Focus on Formative Assessments,” July 12, 2006.)

The new formative-assessment tool, called Aspire, is different from other formative-assessment products because of its professional-development component, its makers say.

“Other products seem to forget that instruction is the biggest piece of student learning,” said Ann Cunningham-Morris, the director of professional development for the Alexandria, Va.-based ASCD. “That’s where I think we’re meeting a need that hasn’t already been met. We’re supporting a practice that impacts real student learning.”

According to the ASCD, administrators in the 164,000-student Fairfax County, Va., schools were frustrated with their current formative-assessment package, and enlisted the aid of Northrop Grumman to develop new online-assessment material.

Teacher Skills

A major need for the district was a tool that tied professional development into the program. Ms. Cunningham-Morris said the ASCD “provided a bridge” between the Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman’s technology platform and the county district’s assessment needs.

Aspire includes typical test-generation software and banks of questions while allowing educators to create their own questions. It displays data in different forms and at the student, school, or district level. After teachers view their students’ performance, they can access professional-development tools that address the specific skills they need to emphasize.

“Assessment should be the beginning of a conversation [about student learning], not the end of it,” Ms. Cunningham-Morris said.

Aspire is in the pilot stage in Fairfax County.

Scott Marion, the associate director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, based in Dover, N.H., cautions, meanwhile, against overuse of the term “formative assessment.”

While he is unfamiliar with Aspire, he said that the term has become something of a buzzword for any company selling assessment-related tools.

Sometimes, he said, the focus of those tools is not in the right areas.

“You hear schools saying, ‘We need to figure out how to improve our test scores,’ ” he said. “You don’t hear, ‘We need to improve student learning.’ ”

A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2007 edition of Education Week as ASCD, District, Company Team Up on Assessments


School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Ed-Tech Policy Wi-Fi on School Buses: Smart Move or Stupidest Idea Ever?
An FCC proposal to use E-Rate funding to put Wi-Fi on school buses prompted strong reactions on social media.
3 min read
A school bus is reflected in a bus mirror.
FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal on May 11 that would allow the use of federal E-rate funding for Wi-Fi in school buses.
Eric Gay/AP
Ed-Tech Policy Homework Gap Could Be Back in Full Force If Lawmakers Don't Act, Education Groups Say
COVID relief funds helped give millions of students internet access during the pandemic, but the money could run out, advocates say.
2 min read
Young girl working on computer at home.
Ed-Tech Policy Reported Essay Remote Learning Isn’t Just for Emergencies
Schools were less prepared for digital learning than they thought they were.
5 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Ed-Tech Policy Opinion Why Are We Turning Our Backs on Remote Learning?
Neither the detractors nor defenders of remote learning are fully in the right, argues one superintendent.
Theresa Rouse
5 min read
Illustration of girl working on computer at home.