In 2010 there were many questions about testing students, including how the information would be used. Parallel questions asked whether performance on the existing tests even mattered. After all, the test were narrow and did not reflect either deeper thinking skills or other noncognitive facets that research was beginning to identify as important for job performance and participation in society.
Now, in 2030, these issues have been resolved. It has become clear that the performance of students matters. It is also clear that testing can now indicate how individual skills vary across the population. Perhaps most important, schools and teachers can and do now build their instructional programs around the observed results of students.
The 2030 system relies heavily on data–data available to and used by schools, teachers, and parents. One essential building block is systematic information on students’ gains in learning as they progress through school. Parents find this tracking of their children’s performance useful in working with their children and the schools and in deciding on which schools their children should attend. Teachers also benefit from the regular feedback throughout the school year in formulating learning plans for their students. They also have clear guidelines for what students should be learning from the learning standards and from the test diagnostics they receive. Schools also can use year-end and course assessments to help evaluate both programs and teacher performance.