Assessment Principles

Annual assessments provide critical information to educators, policymakers, and families on the progress of all students and on the progress of schools and districts in improving student outcomes. In order for states to have reliable information from annual assessments, state leaders must know they are delivering a high-quality test. It is not enough to simply pick a test off the shelf—states must commit to (a) investing in a system capable of delivering a high-quality assessment of student learning that is aligned to expectations of what students need to know in order to be successful in college or careers, and (b) developing the capacity of its schools and educators to utilize assessment results to continuously improve instruction.


For an assessment to be both high-quality and valuable for policymakers, educators, and families, it must embody the following principles:


Assessments are aligned to the state’s college and career ready standards and accurately reflect the breadth and depth of those standards. This will ensure that tests measure what students are expected to learn in the classroom at that grade level and that they indicate if students are on track to graduate prepared for whatever comes next—whether that’s going to college, beginning a career, or joining the military.


States and local education agencies (LEAs) ensure that assessments are a good use of students’ time and that parents and teachers are well-informed about the purpose of each assessment. Assessments are designed to measure the skills that matter most—including writing, problem-solving, and critical thinking.


Assessments return actionable information to schools, teachers, and parents in a timely manner. Parent score reports provide information parents can understand and act on, and teacher score reports provide enough detail to inform instruction the following school year, as well as over time.


State assessment systems ensure results of all tests are comparable and accurately measure “proficiency” in a consistent manner so that state leaders can judge across all schools in the state how well students are being prepared to graduate with options for their future.

Accessible and Unbiased:

Assessments are fully accessible and intentionally designed to enable all students, particularly those with disabilities and English learners, to show what they know and can do. Assessments have been designed to be free from inherent cultural bias. All high schoolers receive a college-reportable score regardless of any accommodation that they may have received.


The assessment is a valid and reliable indicator of whether a student is on-track toward college and career readiness. The assessment has undergone an independent, third-party review of its quality and alignment, and is designed in accordance with the tenets of high-quality test design.


Assessment window is late enough in the school year so that students are truly demonstrating what they learned during a year’s worth of instruction.

Safe, Secure, and Private:

Adhere to best practices in test administration and ensure test security of all test materials. Ensure personally-identifiable information of all students is also secure and protected.