“Common Assessments” vs “Common Understandings”

In a recent discussion, I was asked about “common assessments” in a classroom. The thought here is that no matter what classroom you were in, the assessments would look the same. When I asked them to clarify, I asked outright, “Do you mean that all students will take the same test?”, to which they replied, “yes.”

So here is where I struggle with this concept of “common assessments”. If teacher A does not work with classroom B, do they know the students in that room? Do they know that some of the students have test anxiety, or English is not their first language, or are a myriad of other factors that might not be conducive to “common assessments”?

Now there is a difference between wanting students to have the same test, or the same understandings of material. If I ask students to show that they understand the same objective, does the way we assess truly have to be the same? What I think we mean is that we are looking for “common understandings”, not “common assessments”. The notion of a “common assessment” does not take the individual into account, where “common understandings” allows for different pathways to show learning.

As I am just starting to explore this concept, I would love to know your challenges to these thoughts. Differentiated instruction cannot come with standardized assessments, or am I way off here?

Can we truly differentiate instruction while standardizing assessment-