skip to main content skip to footer

The Psychology of Educational Measurement

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Academic Achievement, Achievement Tests, Developmental Psychology, Educational Testing, Student Characteristics, Test Theory


Since school learning entails not just accretion of knowledge but the structuring and restructuring of knowledge and cognitive skills, the conception and construction of educational achievement measures must be cast in developmental terms. Since student characteristics as well as social and educational experiences influence current performance, the interpretation and implications of educational achievement measures must be relative to intrapersonal and situational contexts. These points imply a strategy of comprehensive assessment in context that focusses on the processes and structures involved in subject-matter competence as moderated in performance by personal and environmental influences. This article addresses in detail both the nature of developing competence and its measurement in terms of context-dependent task performance. Construct-irrelevant task difficulty that might jeopardize the meaning of test scores as well as construct- irrelevant influences that might jeopardize implications for action are taken into account via the comprehensive measurement of relevant contextual factors. Comprehensive assessment in context thus facilitates valid interpretations of the meaning and implications of ability and achievement scores in particular instances, thereby lightening the interpretive and ethical burdens on test users and enhancing the validity of test use. (59pp.)

Read More