Technology and Assessment: Where's the Fit?

It seems that there is an increasing emphasis on bringing high-stakes tests online. I understand that this facilitates scoring and reporting, but does test automation really help students’ academic achievement? Is this really where we should direct our energies when it comes to technology-supported assessment?

Research shows that effective, frequent formative assessment does more to improve student achievement than occasional summative assessment, on- or off-line. Conn McQuinn, the Director of the Educational Technology Support Center at Puget Sound ESD, recently posted an interesting observation concerning technology and assessment in his Educational Technology Weblog.

McQuinn suggests that instead of focusing on how technology can be used to support traditional summative assessment, educators need to ask, “How can technology be used to improve the quality of classroom feedback?" He reasons that when educators shift their focus to gathering and using regular feedback to increase student performance, strategies for using technology to support this endeavor become more readily apparent, and more effective. “(Classroom use of) blogging, document cameras, online learning systems, and classroom response systems all take on a different focus if viewed in the context of formative feedback.”

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