Publications & Resources

Developing Assessments to Inform Teaching and Learning

May 2004

Kristin M. Bass and Robert Glaser

The centrality of assessment for facilitating thinking, reasoning, and problem solving is well-documented and indisputable. Less apparent is how to create informative, yet practical measures for classroom use. Clearly, the changing of assessments alone will not in and of itself improve learning; teachers’ beliefs and practices will need to be altered with various levels of support. The design of assessment situations can nevertheless have a substantial impact on the quality of information provided to teachers and students for instructional decision-making and meaningful learning.

This report considers principles of informative assessments that improve teaching and learning by communicating learning goals, interpreting student performance, tracking progress over time, and suggesting appropriate corrective actions. In the report, we describe several properties of assessment design that enable teachers and students to describe progress in terms of cognitive features of performance, and then act on that information to improve learning. We review classroom assessment programs across subject matters and grade levels in order to suggest essential design elements for tasks, score forms, and interpretive materials that maximize the information provided by assessment of performance and competence. These principles are not intended to be comprehensive, but are meant to highlight some promising areas for informative assessment research.

Bass, K. M., & Glaser, R. (2004). Developing assessments to inform teaching and learning (CSE Report 628). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).