teaching and learning (Elmore, 1996). Despite the promise of new procedures, most teachers tend to teach the way they have always taught, except in the “hothouse” settings where the innovations were designed.

Thus, if assessments based on the foundations of cognitive and measurement science are to be implemented on a broad scale, changes in school structures and practices will likely be needed. However, the precise nature of such changes is uncertain. As new assessments are implemented, researchers will need to examine the effects of such factors as class size and the length of the school day on the power of assessments to inform teachers and administrators about student learning. Also needed is a greater understanding of what structural changes are required for teachers to modify their practice in ways that will enable them to incorporate such assessments effectively.

Some Initial Steps for Building the Knowledge Base

Recommendation 4: Funding should be provided for in-depth analyses of the critical elements (cognition, observation, and interpretation) underlying the design of existing assessments that have attempted to integrate cognitive and measurement principles (including the multiple examples presented in this report). This work should also focus on better understanding the impact of such exemplars on student learning, teacher practice, and educational decision making.

The committee believes an ideal starting point for much of the research agenda is further study of the types of assessment examples provided in the preceding chapters, which represent initial attempts at synthesizing advances in the cognitive and measurement sciences. While these examples were presented to illustrate features of the committee’s proposed approach to assessment, the scope of this study did not permit in-depth analyses of all the design and operational features of each example or their impact on student learning, teacher practice, and educational decision making. Further analysis of these and other examples would help illuminate the principles and practices of assessment design and use described in this report. Several important and related directions of work need to be pursued.

First, to fully understand any assessment, one must carefully deconstruct and analyze it in terms of its underlying foundational assumptions. The assessment triangle provides a useful framework for analyzing the foundational elements of an assessment. Questions need to be asked and answered regarding the precise nature of the assumptions made about cognition, observation, and interpretation, including the degree to which they are in synchrony. Such an analysis should also consider ways in which current knowl-



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement