What are assessments?

Educators use assessments to measure a student’s level of knowledge and skill mastery. Assessments can take many forms and be used in different ways. Informal assessments can include teachers’ observations of students’ skills and performance in the classroom, while formal assessments can include quizzes, essays, or tests at the end of a unit of study. Assessments can provide insight into how much a student knows about a particular subject and/or how much the student knows compared with peers in his or her class, in the state, or in the country. Educators use assessments to determine how well students are progressing, where they need help, and how to tailor their teaching to best meet the needs of their students.

Why do they matter?

High-quality assessments reliably measure students’ progress toward the mastery of learning standards. The assessments Illinois has used in the past were not an effective measure of achievement and did not indicate college and career readiness.  Now, with new assessments that align with the new Illinois Learning Standards, we can use the results to:

  • Identify when students need help or need to be further challenged.
  • Improve instruction in the classroom.
  • Show us how well certain students, schools, or districts are performing, so that we can ensure all students are achieving.
  • Make sure students are prepared and well positioned for future success.

What is Advance Illinois doing?



What Does a High-Quality Assessment Actually Look Like? by the High-Quality Assessment Project outlines the attributes of a strong assessment.


Making Assessments Work is Advance Illinois’ report on how to support teaching and learning in the era of new learning standards.

National PTA created the Parents’ Guide to New Assessments in Illinois as a resource for families.

Plan a PARCC information night for parents using the PARCC Primer developed by the Illinois State Board of Education.


The Shared Civil Rights Principles for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was signed by a broad coalition of civil rights groups and calls for annual assessments in grades 3 – 8 and high school.