Publications & Resources

Performance-Based Assessment for Accountability Purposes: Taking the Plunge and Assessing the Consequences

Nov 1994

Leigh Burstein

Delivered by the late researcher and CRESST colleague Leigh Burstein, this 1991 AERA paper presents many of the key issues that have formed the basis of CRESST research. Burstein discusses, for example, linkages between assessment design and assessment purposes, technical and feasibility criteria for different alternative assessments, and a wide array of implementation concerns, such as how much guidance a performance assessment prompt should give to students. “The way to move to performance assessments for accountability purposes,”says Burstein, “is to tackle the necessary changes in stages.” He adds that performance assessment will require changes by everyone, from assessment developers to teachers and school administrators. “The staff development implications simply can’t be ignored,” says Burstein, “or we will have another `New math’ mess (better curriculum but no one trained to use it).” Burstein says that the measurement community needs to create a new set of validity criteria for performance assessment. Assessment consequences, fairness, transfer and generalizability, cognitive complexity, content quality, content coverage, meaningfulness, and cost and efficiency, are part of the validity criteria, he notes. “The new world of assessment,” concludes Burstein, “won’t come about by hope or prayer, nor will the transition or its end result necessarily be tidy.”

Burstein, L. (1994). Performance-based assessment for accountability purposes: Taking the plunge and assessing the consequences (CSE Report 390). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).