A Vision for Using an Argument-Based Framework for Validity Applied to a Comprehensive System of Assessments for English Learners in Secondary Grades

By Margaret Heritage, Caroline Wylie, Molly Faulkner-Bond, and Aída Walqui

INTRODUCTION   |   PART 1   |   PART 2   |   PART 3    |   PART 4    |   PART 5    |   PART 6    |   PART 7    |   PART 8    |   PART 9   |   REFERENCES    |   APPENDICES

Part 4: Inverting the Assessment System


Concerns have been raised about the top-down nature of assessment in the United States, with calls for a more bottom-up approach that places greater and prioritized emphasis on assessment for the purpose of informing and improving learning and the teaching processes that enable learning (Bailey & Durán, 2020; Gordon, Gordon, Aber, & Berliner, 2013; Wilson, 2018).

The CAS Framework adopts the novel approach of inverting the current assessment system (Figure 2) to privilege assessments at the classroom level that inform ongoing teaching and learning for English Learners as the drivers of assessment types. Its purpose is essentially to make the large-scale summative score less of a culmination and more of a confirmation of information that is already known.

Figure 2. Inverted Assessment System

Diagram showing the inverted assessment system indicating that classroom-based assessment leads to large scale standardized assessment.

This inversion represents an approach to assessment that addresses the current problem of limited access to rigorous content for English Learners and the consequential impact of their poor performance on large-scale assessments. In Figure 2, classroom assessment is the driver of large-scale standardized assessment with the potential of ultimately enabling improved synergy between them and classroom-based assessments (cf. Wilson, 2018).


The rationale for this inversion is articulated in the logic model in Figure 3. Within this logic model, there is congruence across the assessments in terms of the focus on simultaneous academic content and language development and in reinforcing approaches to teaching which are appropriate for the specified educational goals for English Learners.

Figure 3. Logic Model for Inverted Assessment System

Within this logic model for inverted assessment system there is congruence across the assessments in terms of the focus on simultaneous academic content and language development and in reinforcing approaches to teaching.

Such a system would require significant investments to ensure that teachers have the capacity, support, and assistance to engage in the instructional and assessment practices described. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss how such changes might be accomplished, the cost savings from using fewer formal assessments offer an opportunity to redirect and reprioritize spending towards investments in the human capital of teachers instead.

    Mark Wilson’s Presidential Address at the National Council of Measurement in Education [NCME], 2017, later published as Wilson, 2018. It is noteworthy that subsequent to this address, a subgroup of the NCME, The Classroom Assessment Task Force, was established to promote classroom assessment in rebalancing efforts.


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