This qualitative study utilized episodic narrative interviews to investigate assessment thresholds involved in the development of assessment literacy. The goal of the study was to inform efforts toward quality improvements in higher education. Thirty-five academic staff from universities in Australia, Canada and Sweden shared stories of significant changes they made to their assessment practice. Thematic analysis found troublesome aspects to include instructor expectations, lack of consistency, differentiation of performance, student expectations, time constraints/workload, logistical/technological constraints and assessment policy. A belief in meaningful learning, embracing constraints and the desire to meet the needs of students, added to other enablers for assessment change, such as resources, support and strategic use of technology. Findings suggested assessment thresholds of constructive alignment and differentiation of standards. Reflection, collaboration and professional development were found to support the integration of assessment knowledge and build conceptual understanding of assessment thresholds. Authors recommend that higher education institutions provide academic staff with a foundation of conceptual understanding of these key areas to promote moves toward quality assessment practices.