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The CBAL® Initiative

The image is a generic picture illustrating CBAL

ETS has been conducting a long-term research and development initiative called Cognitively Based Assessment of, for, and as Learning (CBAL®). ETS's central goal is to advance the field by creating new knowledge and capability for improving educational assessment at the K–12 level. Among CBAL's developments are a model for a comprehensive system of assessment that:

  • documents what students have achieved ("of learning")
  • helps identify how to plan and adjust instruction ("for learning")
  • is considered by students and teachers to be a worthwhile educational experience in and of itself ("as learning")

We are engaging in this research initiative because we believe that existing approaches to K–12 assessment could be markedly improved by incorporating:

  • findings from learning-sciences research about what it means to be proficient in a domain (in addition to content standards)
  • tasks that model effective teaching practice
  • tasks that students learn from so that assessment strengthens instruction rather than displacing it
  • mechanisms for returning information about student performance in a rapid enough fashion to be of use to teachers and students
  • assessment that is distributed across time so that highly consequential decisions are based on something more than a single event

Promotional Links

ETS Research Forum: Paul Deane

ETS Research Form: Paul Deane video

Learn about the CBAL Language Arts learning progressions and their relationship to the Common Core State Standards (Flash, 4:49).

The CBAL Research Program: Overview

The CBAL Research Program: Overview Video

Get an overview of the CBAL research program, including how the CBAL assessment prototypes are being used in the classroom (Flash, 8:02).