mation to teachers and administrators about the progress or growth of the education system over time. The committee refers to this feature as continuity. And if the assessments are instructionally sensitive—that is, if they show the effects of high-quality teaching—they can provide important information about the effectiveness of teaching practices as well (NRC, 1999d).

Developing and implementing a system of multiple assessments would likely be more costly than continuing with the array of tests now being used by states and school districts. Currently, states spend about $330 million for testing (Achieve, 2000). While this sum appears considerable, it represents less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the total amount spent on precollege education (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). If used properly, the total spending for assessment should not be considered money for tests alone. Funds spent for teachers to score assessments, included in the cost of assessment, also serve an important professional development function. Moreover, spending on assessments that inform instruction represents an investment in teaching and learning, not just in system monitoring. Therefore, policy makers need to invest considerably more in assessment than is currently the case, presuming that the investment is in assessment systems of the type advocated in this report.

Public Opinion and Media Coverage

Recommendation 12: Programs for providing information to the public on the role of assessment in improving learning and on contemporary approaches to assessment should be developed in cooperation with the media. Efforts should be made to foster public understanding of basic principles of appropriate test interpretation and use.

A fourth arena in which research on the integration of cognitive and measurement science can affect practice is through public opinion and the media. Current interest among the public and the news media in testing and test results suggests that public opinion and media coverage can be a powerful arena for change. Information communicated to the public through the media can influence practice in at least two ways. First, the media influence the constituencies responsible for assessment development and practice, including teachers, school administrators, policy makers, and test developers. Perhaps of greater significance is recognition that the more the public is made aware of how assessment practice could be transformed to better serve the goals of learning, the greater will be the support that educators and policy makers have for the kinds of changes proposed in this volume.

Researchers should therefore undertake efforts to communicate with the media what student development toward competence looks like and how it

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