A key feature of EdReports reviews of instructional materials is robust information about assessments embedded in the curriculum. These types of assessments are important, and a 2021 study released by RAND reported that the majority of school leaders interviewed found “that incorporating assessment tools into an instructional material helps meet teachers’ needs” by, for example, “in collecting student data, measuring student progress and achievement, identifying students’ areas of need, and driving future instruction.”
Too often though, these assessments are overlooked as a resource to help gauge student progress aligned to what they’re learning. As schools reopen after a year of interruptions and closures, they could be an invaluable tool to help teachers utilize their core curriculum to scaffold or accelerate learning to ensure students are able to consistently access grade-level content.
Our review tools consider the inclusion of aligned assessments as essential for any quality curriculum. With districts set to receive unprecedented amounts of federal funds over the next few years, schools may be considering investing in new curriculum or purchasing additional assessments. Before any decisions are made, it’s important for educators to first explore what may already be included in their existing instructional materials.
What to Look for in a Curriculum-Embedded Assessment
Local priorities and needs must be weighed as individual districts make curriculum decisions. However, there are universal features that signal a quality curriculum-embedded assessment. These components are reflected across our review tools, and particularly in our usability section (gateway 3). Our educator reviewers look for qualities that include, but are not limited to:
How to Use EdReports Review Tools to Assess the Quality of Embedded Assessments
If you’re unsure about whether or not your materials include embedded assessments, we recommend first locating the title of your program on EdReports.org. We’ve reviewed more than 90 percent of the K-12 core curriculum market for math and English language arts. This is a great place to learn if your current materials, or the materials you’re adopting, may offer what you’re looking for.
“The purpose of assessments should be to support students toward college and career-readiness. If your instructional materials are not standards-aligned, it may not matter that they come with an embedded assessment.”
If your materials have not been reviewed by EdReports, you can still apply the assessment criteria found in our review tools to your current curriculum. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the purpose of assessments should be to support students toward college and career-readiness. If your instructional materials are not standards-aligned, it may not matter that they come with an embedded assessment.
The components that identify the quality of embedded assessments are reflected across our review tools, and particularly in our usability section (gateway 3). In gateways 1 and 2, where we review for alignment to the standards, assessments are analyzed in several indicators and may be used as evidence throughout the review.
As we continue to deepen our presence in instructional materials, EdReports is also examining other levers that affect student learning. We see a future in which high-quality curriculum and assessments work hand-in-hand, supporting teachers to better track student learning and progress. With almost all schools returning to in-person learning exclusively this fall, we must continue our work of empowering educators with the resources they need to ensure all students thrive in school and beyond.