cial assessment design and development. Among the salient federal agencies are the Department of Education, the NSF, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The research agenda is expansive in both scope and likely duration. It would be sensible for the funding of such work to be coordinated across agencies and, in many instances, pursued cooperatively with foundations and the private sector.

Synthesis of Existing Knowledge

Recommendation 1: Accumulated knowledge and ongoing advances from the merger of the cognitive and measurement sciences should be synthesized and made available in usable forms to multiple educational constituencies. These constituencies include educational researchers, test developers, curriculum specialists, teachers, and policy makers.

As discussed throughout this report, a great deal of the foundational research needed to move the science of assessment forward has already been conducted; however, it is not widely available or usable in synthetic form. This report is an initial attempt at such a synthesis, but the committee recognized from the start of its work that a comprehensive critique, synthesis, and extrapolation of all that is known was beyond the scope of a study such as this and remains a target for the future. Furthermore, there is an ongoing need to accumulate, synthesize, and disseminate existing knowledge—that is, to construct the cumulative knowledge base on assessment design and use that lies at the center of Figure 8–1.

Expanding the Knowledge Base

Recommendation 2: Funding should be provided for a major program of research, guided by a synthesis of cognitive and measurement principles, focused on the design of assessments that yield more valid and fair inferences about student achievement. This research should be conducted collaboratively by multidisciplinary teams comprising both researchers and practitioners.

  • A priority should be the development of cognitive models of learning that can serve as the basis for assessment design for all areas of the school curriculum. Research on how students learn subject matter should be conducted in actual educational settings and with groups of learners representative of the diversity of the student population to be assessed.

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