Building a Better Assessment Future

A conference exploring timeless and innovative assessment solutions at the classroom, building, and district levels


**Registration for this conference is closed. If you are interested in registering for this conference in a recorded format, please contact

Why Build a Better Assessment Future?

More than at any other time in recent history, educators and policymakers recognize the need to provide an education system that supports all children to achieve at high levels. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequities in our system and presents an opportunity to aspire to adopt assessment approaches and systems that truly serve to support all children to achieve and become capable learners.

This virtual conference aims to support district teams as they re-imagine their district’s assessment system in a way that elevates assessment purpose and use and propels student learning. This “must-participate” event will feature keynote addresses and workshops where  teams of educators and national and international experts come together to discuss issues and inspire actions to build a better assessment future—envisioned as one that elevates assessment in support of ambitious teaching of rigorous content standards and emphasizes higher levels of student learning.

The conference, hosted by the Michigan Assessment Consortium in partnership with FAME (Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators) and Oakland Schools aims to assist local districts to improve their instructional programs so that all students equally succeed at high levels and gaps between sub-groups are addressed and, eventually, eliminated. 

The conference will feature a renowned team of national and international assessment experts who will share their perspectives on how educational assessment might evolve to meet today’s challenges (see keynote descriptions and preview video links below).

In addition, state assessment experts will address a diverse set of related topics in concurrent clinic sessions, listed in the BBAF Conference Schedule.

Who should attend?  All educators will be inspired and enriched by the content presented. Participants who attend as district or building teams (3 or more members) will benefit from dedicated team times and reflection tools. Teams should include stakeholders who are looking to implement solutions to assessment challenges and seek new opportunities to improve student learning through assessment. While participants are encouraged to attend with a team, individual educators are welcome to attend, and special opportunities for reflection have been planned for your benefit.

Role of the Attendee: Participants should commit to expand their own assessment knowledge and work with their colleagues to elevate their practice and create quality assessment systems.

Virtual conference features:

  • Large-group “TED talk-type” sessions with state, national, and international assessment experts
  • Topical breakout sessions led by education practitioners
  • Opportunities for teams to consult with one or more assessment experts, and
  • Embedded work and reflection times for teams to support emerging work plans

Outcomes: Participants will work and explore as part of a learning team to:

  • Assist local districts to improve their instructional programs to spur higher student achievement and eliminate gaps
  • Understand the keys to quality assessment that support students’ equitable access to learning
  • Appreciate the role assessment plays in all facets of student learning
  • Envision an assessment system that accurately serves the information needs of students, parents, educators and policy makers
  • Raise awareness of what it means to be assessment literate
  • Identify strategies for advancing an assessment system that serves the information needs of multiple audiences

*Earn up to 16 SCECH credits


Presentation Video

BBAF Preview: Rick Stiggins. Stop back for new presenter previews each week, or follow the URLs at the end of the presenter bios below.

Presenter: Susan Brookhart—Assessment Literacy in a Better Assessment Future

How would a better assessment future differ from the current assessment landscape? What would assessment literacy look like in that future? Sue Brookhart offers her perspective on those questions, based on her recent study of research in the area of assessment to inform teaching and learning and her recent professional development work with teachers during the pandemic. She will focus on identifying what will change—and is changing—in assessment, what can be expected to stay the same, and how that affects assessment literacy needs for teachers, school leaders, and students. After presenting her vision of the future of assessment and assessment literacy, she will engage participants in dialogue about their own views. Preview what Susan has to say about Building A Better Assessment Future:

Presenter: Jan Chappuis—High-Quality, Equitable Assessment Design and Practices

Assessment quality is often thought of as item quality. While that is one very important component, it does not represent the domain of what teachers must know to ensure their assessments produce accurate, useful information. When we think of equity in assessment, we often think of fairness of the instrument and conditions under which it is administered; yet, assessment practices also influence equity in opportunity to learn. In this presentation we will examine what teachers need to know and be able to do to ensure both accuracy and effective use of assessment information, whether assessments are locally created or not.

Presenter: Margaret Heritage—Formative Assessment in a Better Assessment Future

What could be the role of formative assessment in an inverted assessment system? Renowned formative assessment expert Margaret Heritage will address this question by considering how an inverted system would privilege formative assessment instead of the current situation whereby large-scale assessments dominate the education landscape. Central to this consideration will be the benefits of an inverted system to teaching and learning, and the mediating factors for learning, self-efficacy, motivation, and self-regulation.

Presenter: Ken O'Connor—Grading in a Better Assessment Future

To paraphrase Sue Brookhart: “In a perfect world there would be no grades; but in a realistic better assessment future, every grade each student receives would be accurate, consistent, and meaningful and come from an assessment process that is supportive of learning.” For too long, advocates for better grading practices have said “please consider doing this.” The pandemic has made it clear that it is time to stop just asking and demand grading reforms that will ensure a better assessment future, and insist they be implemented with considerable haste. Preview what Ken has to say about Building a Better Assessment Future:

Presenter: Jim Pellegrino—Sociocultural Theory: Understanding Learning During and After the Pandemic

This session draws from seminal work on a sociocultural understanding of knowing and learning to frame a discussion of why the pandemic has been so disruptive, cognitively and socio-emotionally; why we need students and teachers back together in school; and what instruction and assessment should look like in the “new normal,” whatever that might be. The fundamental idea is that all learning is a sociocultural activity that is mediated by the people we are with; the cultural tools and artifacts we collectively use to do our “work”; and the nature of that intellectual work, including the practices we engage in while doing it. Assessment should not strip away key contextual elements of what it means to know and how to best show what we know. A sociocultural framing of knowing and learning has significant implications for developing a fair, equitable, student-focused, and balanced system of assessment.

Presenter: Rick Stiggins—How to Develop Truly Balanced Assessment Systems 

Assessment is the process of gathering evidence of student learning to inform educational decisions. Effective schools rely on a wide variety of educational decision-makers making a wide array of decisions that directly impact student learning success. Because of our new school mission of preparing all students for post-secondary success in college and work, local assessment systems must serve all decision-makers well by providing dependable evidence in a timely and understandable manner. This means students, teachers, school leaders and policy makers must use classroom, interim benchmark, and annual assessment results in formative and summative decision contexts to promote student academic well-being. Rick will describe how to balance decision maker, decision to be made, and assessment results needed across contexts in ways that maximize student confidence, motivation, and learning success. Preview what Rick has to say about Building A Better Assessment Future:

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