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Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Eduacational Assessment
assessment approaches use techniques that link assessment tasks to concepts and materials of instruction. Curriculum-embedded assessment offers an alternative to on-demand testing for cases in which there is a need for correspondence among the curriculum, assessment, and actual instruction (see the related discussion of conditional versus unconditional inferences at the end of Chapter 5).
The following examples illustrate some cases in which these kinds of alternative approaches are being used successfully to evaluate individuals and programs in large-scale contexts. Except for DIAGNOSER, these examples are not strictly cognitively based and do not necessarily illustrate the features of design presented in Chapter 5. Instead they were selected to illustrate some alternative ways of approaching large-scale assessment and the trade-offs entailed. The first two examples show how population sampling has been used for program evaluation at the national and state levels to enable coverage of a broader range of learning goals than would be possible if each student were to take the same form of a test. The third and fourth examples involve approaches to measuring individual attainment that draw evidence of student performance from the course of instruction.
Alternative Approaches to Large-Scale Assessment: Examples
National Assessment of Educational Progress
As described earlier in this chapter, NAEP is a national survey intended to provide policy makers and the public with information about the academic achievement of students across the nation. It serves as one source of information for policy makers, school administrators, and the public for evaluating the quality of their curriculum and instructional programs. NAEP is a unique case of program evaluation in that it is not tied to any specific curriculum. It is based on a set of assessment frameworks that describe the knowledge and skills to be assessed in each subject area. The performances assessed are intended to represent the leading edge of what all students should be learning. Thus the frameworks are broader than any particular curriculum (NRC, 1999a). The challenge for NAEP is to assess the breadth of learning goals that are valued across the nation. The program approaches this challenge through the complex matrix sampling design described earlier.
NAEP’s design is beginning to be influenced by the call for more cognitively informed assessments of educational programs. Recent evaluations of NAEP (National Academy of Education, 1997; NRC, 1999a) emphasize that the current survey does not adequately capitalize on advances in our understanding of how people learn particular subject matter. These study