per-and-pencil tests that students take individually at their desks under strictly standardized conditions. Furthermore, realizing the potential benefits of new forms of assessment will depend on making compatible changes in curriculum and instruction.
Like other groups before us (NRC, 1999c; National Academy of Education, 1999), the committee recognizes that the bridge between research and practice takes time to build and that research and practice must proceed interactively. It is unlikely that the insights gained from current or new knowledge about cognition, learning, and measurement will be sufficient by themselves to bring about transformations in assessment such as those described in this report. As the NRC’s Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice pointed out, research and practice need to be connected more directly through the building of a cumulative knowledge base that serves both sets of interests. In the context of this study, that knowledge base would focus on the development and use of theory-based assessment. Furthermore, it is essential to recognize that research impacts practice indirectly through the influence of the existing knowledge base on four important mediating arenas: educational tools and materials; teacher education and professional development; education policies; and public opinion and media coverage (NRC, 1999c). By affecting each of these arenas, an expanding knowledge base on the principles and practices of effective assessment can help change educational practice. And the study of changes in practice, in turn, can help in further developing the knowledge base. These organizing ideas regarding the connections between research and practice are illustrated in Figure 8–1.
In this chapter we outline a proposed research and development agenda for expanding the knowledge base on the integration of cognition and measurement and consider the implications of such a knowledge base for each of the four mediating arenas that directly influence educational practice. In doing so we propose two general guidelines for how future work should proceed.
First, the committee advocates increased and sustained multidisciplinary collaboration around theoretical and practical matters of assessment. We apply this precept not only to the collaboration between researchers in the cognitive and measurement sciences, but also to the collaboration of these groups with teachers, curriculum specialists, and assessment developers. The committee believes the potential for an improved science and design of educational assessment lies in a mutually catalytic merger of the two foundational disciplines, especially as such knowledge is brought to bear on conceptual and pragmatic problems of assessment development and use.