Publications & Resources

Leverage Points for Improving Educational Assessment

Feb 2001

Robert J. Mislevy, Linda S. Steinberg, Russell G. Almond, Geneva D. Haertel, and William R. Penuel

Advances in cognitive psychology deepen our understanding of how students gain and use knowledge. Advances in technology make it possible to capture more complex performances in assessment settings, by including, for example, simulation, interactivity, collaboration, and constructed response. The challenge is in knowing just how to put this new knowledge to work. Familiar schemas for designing and analyzing tests produce assessments that are useful because they are coherent, within the constraints under which they evolved. Breaking beyond the constraints requires not only the means for doing so (through the advances mentioned above) but schemas for producing assessments that are again coherent; that is, assessments that may indeed gather complex data to ground inferences about complex student models, to gauge complex learning or evaluate complex programs–but which build on a sound chain of reasoning from what we observe to what we infer. This presentation first reviews an evidence-centered framework for designing and analyzing assessments. It then uses this framework to discuss and to illustrate how advances in technology and in education and psychology can be harnessed to improve educational assessment.

Mislevy, R. J., Steinberg, L. S., Almond, R. G., Haertel, G. D., & Penuel, W. R. (2001). Leverage points for improving educational assessment (CSE Report 534). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).