Why Is It Important to Align Instruction and Assessment?

Authentic assessment is aligned with the curriculum. It assesses what we teach and what we value (Stiggins, 1994; Valencia, 1990; Wiggins, 1989). Deciding the important outcomes is not always easy, but it is a critical first step in creating authentic assessments. There are many helpful resources for teachers: state and district curriculum guides, published instructional materials, national standards documents, and professional colleagues (Au, 1994; Valencia & Place, 1994).

When assessment is aligned with instruction, both students and teachers benefit. Students are more likely to learn because instruction is focused and because they are assessed on what they are taught. Teachers are also able to focus, making the best use of their time. Because assessment involves real learning, they can integrate assessment into daily instruction and classroom activities. For example, if students are studying a unit on natural disasters, reading accounts of the experiences, and learning about cause and effect, the assessment might include reading about a different catastrophe or writing a research report on how it occurs.

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