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Policy Effectiveness of Interim Assessments in Providence Public Schools


Many urban districts have adopted interim assessments in recent years as a supplement to annual testing. Possible purposes for such tests include monitoring and assisting student progress, aligning the curriculum, and practicing for state exams, but little is known about how effectively real systems advance these purposes. The Providence Public School District (PPSD) implemented a well-crafted system of quarterly assessments at every grade starting in 2004 and discontinued them in 2007. During the implementation period, we interviewed district officials about what they were trying to accomplish, and we asked teachers and other school personnel about their experiences with the assessments and their use of the results. We found some evidence of effectiveness as well as some limitations. Uncertainty about the magnitude of positive impacts raised questions about the net value of the assessments given their considerable costs to districts, teachers, and students.