Irwin Kirsch Appointed to New Ralph W. Tyler Chair in Large-Scale Assessment


Princeton, N.J. (May 10, 2012) —

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) Board of Trustees today announced the creation of a research chair to honor the late Ralph W. Tyler, a scientific pioneer in the field of large-scale educational assessment. Dr. Irwin S. Kirsch, currently a Distinguished Presidential Appointee in ETS's Research & Development division, has been named as the first holder of the Ralph W. Tyler Chair in Large-Scale Assessment — ETS's fifth research chair.

"As we work to advance the science of large-scale, group-score assessment, we can think of no greater scholar to honor and emulate than Dr. Tyler," says Kurt Landgraf, President and CEO of ETS. "And we can think of no better person to have in that distinguished research chair than Irwin Kirsch." 

"Large-scale survey assessments, which provide information about groups rather than individuals, are of growing importance to ETS and increasingly popular among policymakers around the world," says Kirsch, who directs ETS's Center for Global Assessment. "Working with these surveys provides ETS with a unique opportunity to expand our methodological and technological capabilities, which will better support the needs of policymakers and other stakeholders both here in the United States and around the world."

Tyler had a distinguished career as Chair of the Department of Education and Dean at the University of Chicago, Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, and Chair of the committee whose recommendations eventually led to the development of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 1969. He also was an education advisor to every U.S. President from Franklin Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter.

The Tyler Chair is the fifth research chair at ETS. The first four are named after other pioneers in educational measurement research: Norman O. Frederiksen, Edmund W. Gordon, Frederic M. Lord and Samuel J. Messick.

The holder of the new chair will be charged with providing intellectual leadership to ETS as it seeks to expand its capabilities with respect to technology, methodology and policy dissemination in the area of large-scale assessment, especially in the international arena. This entails work in three areas:

  • Assessment design and analytics
  • Technology related to test development, management, delivery and data collection in multiple languages
  • Identification of policy issues and dissemination of assessment results

Kirsch earned his Ph.D. in educational measurement, reading/literacy from the University of Delaware in 1982 and joined ETS in 1984. He has developed and directed a number of large-scale assessments in the area of literacy, including the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), and was one of the leaders in establishing the first ever comparative international assessment of adult literacy (IALS). ETS presented him with its Research Scientist Award for his work in the area and named him Distinguished Presidential Appointee in 1999. The National Center for Literacy acknowledged his professional contributions to the field with their 2007 Leadership Award.

Over the course of his career, Kirsch has collaborated closely with a number of state, national and international organizations, including the World Bank, UNESCO, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He currently chairs the Reading Expert Group for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and oversees the development and implementation of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), a new computer-delivered assessment of adult competencies for the OECD. He also will serve as the Project Director for key elements of PISA 2015.

"Dr. Kirsch is the ideal choice to hold the Tyler Chair in Large-Scale Assessment," says Ida Lawrence, Senior Vice President of ETS's Research and Development Division. "His experience and thought leadership has been essential to ETS's success in helping to advance innovation and rigor in ETS's work on international large-scale assessments.  This work aligns with ETS's mission to support education and professional development for all people worldwide."

About ETS

At ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded as a nonprofit in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series™ assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.