Why Horizon?

Horizon was developed in collaboration with Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. Teacher involvement during product development helped ensure that Horizon provides a flexible and teacher-friendly tool that can also provide access to professional development resources. Teacher involvement also ensured that the software would support the formative assessment process and the concept of Professional Learning Communities. For the software platform, these educators turned to technology experts here at Northrop Grumman.

A User-Friendly Online Platform

To use Horizon, students log into their accounts, view their personal assessment data, and see alerts for upcoming tests. When they are completing tests, they can move flexibly among test items and use online tools to which the teacher has provided access. When finished, students get immediate feedback on their performance with access to explanations for items answered incorrectly and opportunities to retry a test, depending on the goals of the teacher.

Horizon includes a feature that lets you take assessments beyond numbers and data to analyzing students' levels of thinking about subject matter. An optional feature of Horizon allows you to connect the results of student tests to designated levels of thinking and students' ability to explain their answers.

Teachers use Horizon to create and modify assessments at any time. Assessment items can be imported from just about any source: district-created sources, state sources, textbook publishers, or item banks included with Horizon. Teachers can also create their own items using a point-and-click interface. Once assessments are completed, teachers receive immediate feedback they can use to analyze student learning progress and determine remedial interventions. Online links take teachers to additional curriculum options and research-based teaching practices for differentiating instruction.

Support of Teacher Professional Development

Horizon's integration of formative assessment with professional development is a significant advantage over other online assessment systems. Using Horizon, teacher can take active steps not only in changing what they teach but how they teach it. Once teachers have captured formative assessment data that indicate student learning problems, they can access Horizon's extensive collection of professional development tools and resources on research-based instructional practices. Horizon’s professional development tools include:

  • Learning activities that can be done in small groups or individually.
  • Video demonstrations of research-based teaching practices in action in the classroom.
  • Articles on how to have a positive impact on student achievement.

Opportunities for Teacher Collaboration

Horizon supports teachers in collaborating in their own learning communities to determine what works for their students in their classrooms. Horizon makes it easier for teachers to share assessment results, identify trends, reflect on teaching practices, and develop collaborative intervention strategies for addressing problem areas.


Summative student assessments at the end of a semester or school year are too late and ineffective for assisting students on high-stakes tests. Study after study confirms much higher success for teachers and students, especially underachieving students, who implement and utilize formative assessment practices that use periodic evaluations and feedback throughout the school year to adapt teaching and learning to individual student needs.


Horizon Assessment System is a Web-based, process-oriented, total assessment solution focused around teacher collaboration and aligned with the tenets of Professional Learning Communities. It provides teachers with specific research-based strategies to help drive instruction and improve student learning.

  • Standard and custom test flexibility immediately available at any time
  • Important collaboration and immediate student feedback
  • Integrates with other educational systems
  • Web-based, process-oriented, collaborative environment for continuous formative assessments throughout the school year 
  • Diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments on any schedule established by teachers and schools
  • Student performance comparisons by peer group, school, and school district
  • Immediate feedback for teachers, students, parents, and school administrators
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Custom question content is owned by the School district
  • Specific, timely, and effective instructional and intervention strategies
  • Continually improving student performance on high-stakes exams
  • Easy flow of information and testing data across school, district, and State information management systems
  • Student progress tracking within school, district, and State
  • Integration and single-sign-on interface with other educational applications
  • Scalable and receptive to modifications and enhancements