• How do we transition from old exams to new ones?

  • Which assessments should we care about anyway?

  • Are we even close to measuring the demands of the 21st Century?

The dizzying amount of news about assessments in schools is enough to make anyone’s head spin. This post aims to offer guidance to leaders and teachers as they navigate this time of change.

Key Trends:



1. Shallow, discrete knowledge and skills
Critical thinking and deeper learning
2. Intelligence is fixed Intelligence is malleable
3. Individualized, paper and pen exams Cooperative, resource heavy, computerized

1. Most of the United States is moving to a new form of standardized testing that seeks to assess students’ abilities to think more than remember. It is sure to be an interesting and messy transition.

2. Recent research is blowing up the notion that some people are born smart and others are not. Mindset Works offers concrete tools we can use in schools to increase student motivation and therefore achievement. Check out the results of a study of something as simple as the type of praise teachers give students.

Effort praise: “Wow. That’s a really good score. You must have tried hard.”

Intelligence praise: “Wow. That’s a really good score. You must be smart.”

Control praise: “Wow. That’s a really good score.”

mindset research


3. The work of Sugata Mitra strongly suggests we need to put kids in groups, give them a computer and let them learn. And he thinks exams is the place to start transforming our schools.

A suggested three-year transition plan:





Increase growth mindset

Increase explaining, reasoning in classrooms

Mindset Works

Education Week


Create pathways, especially in math, for students to be placed in appropriate courses without limiting the level of attainment

Build technological capacity

Math Sequencing Research


Tech Requirements Outline


 Make collaborative, resource heavy exams
Reflect! Celebrate! Make Adjustments!