*What you test is what you get*. Study after study shows that teachers tend to focus on tested content and formats and to ignore what's not tested (Herman, 2004). This is a prime rationale for the United States' investment in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment consortia—to develop assessment systems that will embody the Common Core State Standards, focus schools on supporting the deeper learning required for college and career readiness, and help U.S. students become more competitive with those in the highest-performing countries.

## The Major Claims

*Reading:*Students can independently read and closely analyze a range of increasingly complex texts.*Writing:*Students can produce well-grounded and effective writing for a variety of purposes and audiences.*Research*: Students can build and present knowledge through research and the integration, comparison, and synthesis of ideas.

*Concepts and Procedures*: Students can explain and apply mathematical concepts and procedures and carry out mathematical procedures with precision and fluency.*Problem Solving*: Students can solve a range of complex, well-posed problems in pure and applied mathematics.*Communicating/Reasoning*: Students can clearly and precisely construct viable arguments.*Modeling and Data Analysis*: Students can analyze complex, real-world scenarios and construct and use mathematical models to interpret and solve problems.

## Measuring Depth of Knowledge

*Level 1 test items*draw on basic knowledge and rote learning—for example, literal comprehension questions in reading or simple one-step word problems in math.*Level 2 test items*require some application of what's been learned and some cognitive processing—for example, finding the main idea of a story when that idea is not explicitly stated or doing a two-step word problem.*Level 3 test items*require the student to research, synthesize, reason with evidence, and communicate effectively. For example, an assessment item might ask a student to read an editorial on nuclear energy and use evidence from the editorial to analyze the strength of the author's argument. In mathematics, students might be asked to make and justify an investment decision on the basis of their interpretation of complex data. At this level, we see the increased rigor of the new standards.*Level 4 test items*require extended planning, research, and problem solving that call on students' self-management and metacognitive skills. For example, students might be asked to research a topic from multiple perspectives and present their findings orally and in writing, using multiple media. In mathematics, students might use their mathematics knowledge to research and recommend the most cost-effective plan for solving an authentic problem, like building a new structure or buying a used car.

## What We've Learned

## How Do the Assessments Stack Up Against State Tests?

#### Figure 1. The Percentage of Smarter Balanced Test Items at Each of the Four Levels of Norman Webb's Depth-of-Knowledge Framework.

New Assessments, New Rigor

Depth-of-Knowledge Level | English Language Arts | Math |
---|---|---|

Level 1. Draws on basic knowledge and rote learning | 25% | 24% |

Level 2. Requires some application of what's been learned and some cognitive processing | 38% | 40% |

Level 3. Requires the ability to research, synthesize, reason with evidence, and communicate effectively | 26% | 25% |

Level 4. Requires extended planning, research, and problem solving that call on students' self-management and metacognitive skills | 11% | 11% |