Reimagining College Access: Performance Assessments From K-12 Through Higher Education

The Learning Policy Institute is partnering with EducationCounsel and Great Schools Partnership in a groundbreaking national effort to support the use of k–12 performance assessments, such as student portfolios and capstone projects, in higher education admissions, placement, and advising decisions. The approach is intended to both improve the quality of these decisions, by providing better information about students’ preparedness for higher education, and increase educational equity. The initiative, Reimagining College Access (RCA), brings together a diverse group of k–12 and higher education policy and practice leaders who agree that both systems, their students, and our society can benefit from authentic and holistic ways of assessing students’ competencies and mastery of skills needed for college, work, and life in the 21st century (see figure below for RCA's vision). 

RCA began by exploring the interest in and value of performance assessment in both k–12 and higher education, and then identified and brought together a core group of individuals and organizations to advance the initiative. RCA convened three task forces and has developed a series of specific recommendations aimed at achieving RCA’s vision.

RCA is now engaged in the following activities:

  • Developing a set of research-based criteria to describe the system-level quality and rigor of performance assessments (e.g., quality of the processes used for task creation, rubric development, and calibration of scoring) used by individual k–12 schools, consortia of schools, and/or state and local k–12 school systems.
  • Adapting and leveraging existing technology platforms to facilitate the “handoff” of performance assessment information from k–12 to institutions of higher education (IHEs), including k–12 school profiles, high school transcripts, and admissions applications.
  • Launching local and regional partnerships to pilot the use of performance assessment information in higher education admissions, placement, and success. We are conducting initial conversations with leaders in a variety of states and regions that are poised to engage in this work. Read more about our current pilot work >