Message From Our Executive Director – May 2020

The “yes buts”—the common objections to performance assessment—keep dropping away.

The latest comes with the revolutionary announcement from the UC Board of Regents last week: Going forward, the SAT or ACT test is not required for admission to a UC campus. The requirement will be phased out completely by 2025.

And just like that, there goes the “yes but the SAT” counterargument to performance assessment system building. An institutional practice that had seemed entrenched is now revealed by the pandemic to be fragile.

We can add the SAT to a growing list that includes “Yes but instructional minutes,” “Yes but the end-of-year standardized tests,” and “Yes but the course grade.”

Meanwhile, the concept of a defense of learning has proven resilient in this crisis. ELP is proud to partner with the Learning Policy Institute and the Linked Learning Alliance to launch the “Defending Learning at a Distance” series, which in coming weeks presents multiple opportunities to observe students’ virtual defenses of learning and engage in conversations with the inspiring students and educators who have remained committed to performance assessment despite school closures. (For those of you wondering about ELP’s long running practice of Defense Design Studios, this series is where we are putting that energy this year.)

Watch this web page closely for upcoming dates associated with the “Defending Learning at a Distance” series. There are some events happening later this week. And more will be added as plans get solidified. Students and schools are moving fast. Don’t take it from us: Watch Envision student Dani Martin vlog about preparing for her virtual defense. I can’t wait to witness what students have to say about their learning in the next couple weeks, and to discuss the implications of this with all of you in the months to come.

Stay safe,


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Justin Wells, ELP Executive Director

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