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A New Model of Student Assessment for the 21st Century


"The chronic academic underperformance and student failure of most American urban high schools are actually created by the antiquated way that schools evaluate student academic performance and award (or deny) course credits. When the school leaders in a small inner-city high school in Chicago began to question the "received wisdom" of high school student assessment and common practices of grading, remarkable improvements in student performance followed, not just once, but year after year. By changing the system by which high school students pass courses and earn course credits, the school was able to simultaneously raise graduation requirements and increase graduation rates. These school leaders also created a student assessment database that serves as a model for a new generation of school and district student data systems, using classroom assessment data to inform instruction and to direct support services and remediation.

How does a school take urban kids with low test scores and myriad other life challenges and, within a few years, remediate a history of underachievement, significantly improve their chance of graduating, and successfully propel them on to college? This brief case study challenges long-established practices and offers districts possibilities for improving secondary education outcomes by rethinking our understanding of academic success and transforming the structure and tracking of student achievement."