In the current educational policy environment, there is great interest in holding schools and teachers accountable for student learning, and in knowing “what works” in terms of interventions that are likely to have a positive effect on student learning. As one prominent example, Colorado’s SB-191 legislation, passed in 2010, mandates the annual evaluation of all K-12 public school teachers with respect to growth in student learning outcomes. As another example, a number of departments in the University of Colorado’s College of Arts & Sciences have hired talented undergraduates to serve as “learning assistants” in large-enrollment STEM courses with two purposes in mind. The first is to help instructors implement new pedagogical strategies that make students in large-enrollment courses more active participants in their learning experiences. The second is to inspire the learning assistants to consider a career in teaching, ideally in a K-12 setting.
To evaluate progress made toward any reform or program goals, there is great need for expertise in assessment design, research and evaluation. CADRE, based in the University of Colorado Boulder's School of Education, serves as a central resource where such expertise can be located and engaged. CADRE staff collaborates with university departments, state agencies, districts, schools and other organizations to investigate the effects of programs and interventions on student learning and to improve upon assessment practices and design.