Equity in Assessment

For assessment to improve student learning and authentically document what students know and can do for today’s diverse students, an equitable and culturally responsive approach to assessment is needed. To begin the conversation on the relationship between equity and assessment, NILOA launched its 29th Occasional Paper in 2017 that explores the question “how consequential can assessment be to learning when assessment approaches may not be inclusive of diverse learners?” We continue the conversation in our 42nd Occasional Paper, “A New Decade for Assessment: Embedding Equity into Assessment Praxis” which builds upon conversations since the release of the 2017 paper, highlighting questions, insights, and future directions for the decade ahead. 

Equity-minded assessment entails the following actions:

  1. Check biases and ask reflective questions throughout the assessment process to address assumptions and positions of privilege.
  2. Use multiple sources of evidence appropriate for the students being assessed and assessment effort.
  3. Include student perspectives and take action based on perspectives.
  4. Increase transparency in assessment results and actions taken.
  5. Ensure collected data can be meaningfully disaggregated and interrogated.
  6. Make evidence-based changes that address issues of equity that are context-specific.

Equity Conversation

NILOA invited the field into dialogue on the relationship between equity and assessment. Over 15 faculty, staff, and administrators have explored and unpacked relationships between equity and assessment. Their responses examine the important role of equity and cultural responsiveness; social justice in assessment; and intersections between equity, inclusion, and assessment. The conversations have refined the ideas and added various challenges and opportunities to consider.

The Importance of Equity

Eboni Zamani-Gallaher

Equitable Assessment Framework

Thomas Nelson Laird & Allison BrckaLorenz

Pedagogy, Inclusion & Disaggregation

Melissa Wright

Responsiveness & Inclusivity

Pamela Petrease Felder

Pedagogy

Jan McArthur

Professional Development & Pedagogy

Jodi Fisler

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Ereka R. Williams

Inclusivity

Joseph D. Levy &
Ciji A. Heiser

Inclusive Learning Environments

Ian Clark &
Masahiro Arimoto

Faculty & Pedagogy

Sheri Williams &
Frank Perrone

Social Justice

Gavin W. Henning &
Anne E. Lundquist

Student Affairs

Sophie Tullier

Professional Development

Ruth Williams

Student Affairs & Engagement

Leslie S. Meyerhoff

Professional Development

Rosalie Roberts

CRA as Good Assessment

Dennis L. Rudnick

Learning Management System

Audrey Rorrer &
Bruce Richards

International Perspective on CRA

Serafina Pastore

Disability as Identity and Culture

Ezekiel Kimball, Jordan Abbott, & Jonique Childs

Change Strategies

Carole L. Huston

If you would like to join the equity conversation and respond to or raise points around equity and assessment, please fill out the form or email NILOA: niloa@education.illinois.edu.

Equity Case Studies

We recognize that there are practices occurring within institutions of higher education that address issues of equity in relation to assessment. What is lacking is awareness of the various practices, their effectiveness, process elements, and the impact of equitable assessment efforts on diverse student populations and their learning.

NILOA and the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), in partnership with others, invited case studies around Equity in Assessment to highlight examples from which others can learn and to continue to dialogue on equitable assessment. 

San Diego State University: Supporting Commuter Students through Equity-Driven and Student-Focused Assessment

This case study showcases how an institutional focus on equity can help foster equitable assessment through empowering faculty, administrators, and staff to explore equity gaps affecting students in Commuter Life (a San Diego State University initiative) use assessment data to close those gaps, and leverage the student voice and experience to inform improvement via a seminar course for commuter students.

St. Edward’s University: Rethinking General Education to Support Social Justice

To better align general education with the mission of St. Edward’s University, a general education renewal process was undertaken to revamp curriculum as well as revamp assessment processes to reflect the equity and social justice mission of the university, moving from a course-based silo assessment approach to a university-level discussion engaging all campus stakeholders in equitable improvement processes. 

Capital University: Campus Climate Assessment through Critical Race Theory

To examine campus climate, Capital University conducted a study with a Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework, which did not assume that the climate was already equitable for all students. Instead, the study asked the following questions: What are the actual experiences of students of color? Do students of color have different experiences than White students? Are students’ perceptions of diversity and inclusion different by race?

Cornell University: Ripple Effect Mapping

At Cornell University, many believe that equity-minded assessment practices should invoke participatory practices aimed at validating diverse stakeholder experiences. Ripple Effect Mapping (REM) is used to examine practice by not only learning about equity-minded assessment but also elevating the student voice and experience.

PortlandState

Portland State University: General Education and Equitable Assessment

For Portland State University, equitable assessment practice includes space for all students and faculty to meaningfully participate, grounded in the understanding that assessment must find ways to support them in improvement. In general education program, assessment is paired with faculty support efforts so that faculty are willing to engage in critical reflection about their own practice and who our students are and how we can best serve them.

Capella

Capella University: Equity and Transparency

At Capella University, assessments are designed to ensure that learners have opportunities to learn and practice career-relevant competencies. In order to deliver on the quality and fairness of these assessments, Capella ensures transparency for all learners in each course for each assessment.