Researching. Synthesizing. Reasoning with evidence. The PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments are setting their sights on complex thinking skills.
Extensive research demonstrates the principle, What you test is what you get. Study after study shows that teachers tend to focus on tested content and formats and to ignore what's not tested (Herman, 2004). This is a prime rationale for the United States' investment in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment consortia—to develop assessment systems that will embody the Common Core State Standards, focus schools on supporting the deeper learning required for college and career readiness, and help U.S. students become more competitive with those in the highest-performing countries.
So how are the consortia doing? Our analysis (Herman & Linn, 2013) provides some clues.
The Major Claims