Reformer ToolboxLogin

CancelLost your password?

#AskExcelinEd: What does it look like when a state takes assessment literacy seriously?

• Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.

Assessment literacy is essential to make important decisions about students, educators, schools and state and local policy based on student data. However, too few educators, policymakers, students and families understand the important role of assessment in helping all students achieve at high levels or understand the fundamental purposes and procedures of educational testing.

Michigan Takes Assessment Literacy Seriously

In Michigan, a group of grassroots volunteers gathered to fix this. Using their own resources, the group created the Michigan Assessment Consortium and began working to solve the problem of assessment illiteracy. After five years, the consortium incorporated.

In 2016, the Michigan State Board of Education endorsed Assessment Literacy Standards published by the Michigan Assessment Consortium. The Assessment Literacy Standards were written for five groups of individuals—students and their families, teachers, building administrators, district administrators and policymakers—so each group could become more knowledgeable about assessment purposes and uses.

The Michigan Assessment Consortium has developed several resources and opportunities to create awareness and empower stakeholders to become assessment literate. Self-paced courses and a micro-credentials to create a certified “assessment specialist” are the most in-depth offerings. There are also a variety of face-to-face professional learning events to self-paced online video modules in addition to white papers and awareness materials to assist all assessment users to become “assessment literate.”

Understanding the appropriate roles that student assessment can play to determine levels of student achievement and educational accomplishment, as well as to guide improved learning, is critical. I look forward to seeing this important work unfold in Michigan and hope other states will consider ways they too can improve assessment literacy.

Learn more at

Looking for More?

Read the blog post About Testing to learn more on why assessments are so important for all kids. And explore ExcelinEd’s School Accountability policy page to learn how A-F school grading can drive student success.

About the author

Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.

Christy Hovanetz is a Senior Policy Fellow for ExcelinEd focusing on school accountability policies. Dr. Hovanetz served as the Assistant Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Education and Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the Florida Department of Education. She has worked in education policy for the state of Florida since 1999 serving as the Director of Evaluation and Reporting, Director of Reading First and a Policy Analyst for Governor Jeb Bush. She graduated summa cum laude from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with a minor in mathematics and is a certified teacher in the state of Minnesota. She earned her Masters of Public Administration at the University of Minnesota and a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University.