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Some Recent Developments in Assessing Student Learning

Mislevy, Robert J.
Publication Year:
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Draft of paper to appear in H.J. Walberg & G.D. Haertel (Eds.), Educational Psychology: Effective Practices and Policies (McCutchan)
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Subject/Key Words:
Cognitive Psychology, Educational Psychology, Educational Assessment, Measurement, Computer-Based Testing (CBT), Generalizability Theory


Many familiar practices of educational assessment can be traced to the first third of the Twentieth Century. Their forms were shaped by constraints on gathering and handling data in that era and by purposes conceived under then-current beliefs about learning and schooling. A notion of mental measurement analogous to physical measurement developed, and the tools of test theory evolved to guide applied work within this setting—designing tests, characterizing their evidential value, and evaluating how well they achieved their intended purposes. Two kinds of developments are now taking places in educational assessment: (1) Capitalizing on technological and statistical advances to better serve essentially these same purposes under essentially the same constraints, and (2) developing assessments to serve a broader array of purposes, motivated by our growing understanding of the nature of knowledge and learning.

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