October 20, 2008 10:19 ET

SETDA Releases Next Report in Class of 2020: Action Plan for Education Series: "Technology-Based Assessments Improve Teaching and Learning"

Calls for Proactive Use of Data to Drive School Reform Efforts

ARLINGTON, VA--(Marketwire - October 20, 2008) - The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), representing all 50 states and DC, today released the "Technology-Based Assessments Improve Teaching and Learning" report focusing on the use of technology-based assessment systems to provide classroom teachers with innovative approaches for improving instruction for all students. Additionally, the report calls on states to redefine its role as "Data Compliance Officers" to "Data Leaders" -- supporting the use of relevant, timely data at the school and district levels to improve instruction and teacher quality and drive school reform efforts.

Many schools and districts that have shown strong gains in student achievement are utilizing low-stakes formative assessments to monitor individual student progress. In addition, these formative assessments have the potential to provide generalized data that is useful at the district and state level to inform systemic changes in policies and to drive school improvement efforts.

"The difference is whether our educational system uses data reactively or proactively. There is evidence that the proactive use of formative assessments improves teacher quality and increases student achievement," said Mary Ann Wolf, SETDA's Executive Director. "Scaling these low-stakes formative assessment systems up will make a real difference in our educational system," stated Wolf. "This will require meaningful teacher training, IT support to ensure the reports delivered to teachers are relevant and user-friendly, and strong leadership emphasizing the importance of data analysis to drive classroom instruction at the school, district, and state levels."

The report highlights over 15 examples from states and districts using technology-based assessments to individualize instruction to:

--  Improve student achievement
--  Remediate before it's too late
--  Track individual student growth and progress, and
--  Achieve school improvement goals.

According to Wolf, "Our educational system must realize the incredible return on investment of using data to educate our children with timely, relevant, and personalized instruction. We are not advocating for more standardized tests, instead we suggest that using technology to assess students in a less formal, yet more personalized manner, can glean benefits for teachers, parents and students alike."

The Report's Key Recommendations include:


--  Incorporate innovative, consistent and timely assessments into daily
--  Ensure sufficient technology infrastructure and technical support is
    available to all teachers and administrators.
--  Create new instructional design principles for engaging diverse
    student capabilities and needs.
--  Provide teacher training for the proper uses of data to improve
    teaching to ensure each child's potential is reached.
--  Provide leadership from the federal, state, and district regarding
    teachers' use of data as a "carrot and not a stick."
--  Use technology and formative assessment to strengthen the home and
    school connection by communicating with parents on student progress.
--  Provide a separate funding stream to support leadership and teacher
    training regarding the use of data to change teaching practices.

Technology Infrastructure

--  Ensure the data flowing into the classroom for the improvement of
    instruction is user-friendly, timely, and accurate.
--  Ensure that computers and other technologies are used continuously and
    seamlessly in instruction & assessment.
--  Ensure software is available and scheduled in such a way to ensure
    easy access to quality tutoring for all students.
--  Using technology to immediately post results on the state's electronic
    management system for transferability.

Go to to view the "Technology-Based Assessments Improve Teaching and Learning" report, the third in SETDA's Class of 2020 Action Plan series.


The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is the principal association for state directors of technology and their staff members providing professional development and leadership around the effective use of technology in education to enhance competitiveness in the global workforce.

Contact Information

    Mary Ann Wolf, PhD
    Executive Director
    Email Contact