Publications & Resources

A Brief Introduction to Evidence-Centered Design

May 2004

Robert J. Mislevy, Russell G. Almond, and Janice F. Lukas

Evidence-centered assessment design (ECD) is an approach to constructing educational assessments in terms of evidentiary arguments. This paper provides an introduction to the basic ideas of ECD, including some of the terminology and models that have been developed to implement the approach. In particular, it presents the high-level models of the Conceptual Assessment Framework and the Four-Process Architecture for assessment delivery systems. Special attention is given to the roles of probability-based reasoning in accumulating evidence across task performances, in terms of belief about unobservable variables that characterize the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities of students. This is the role traditionally associated with psychometric models, such as those of item response theory and latent class models. To unify the ideas and to provide a foundation for extending probability-based reasoning in assessment applications more broadly, however, a more general expression in terms of graphical models is indicated. This brief overview of ECD provides the reader with a feel for where and how graphical models fit into the larger enterprise of educational and psychological assessment. A simple example based on familiar large-scale standardized tests such as the GRE is used to fix ideas.

Mislevy, R. J., Almond, R. G., & Lukas, J. F. (2004). A brief introduction to evidence-centered design (CSE Report 632). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).