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A second set of assertions pertains to the present state of online assessment and authoring systems:

  • - Online assessments, using simulations, open-ended oral or verbal responses, other constructed responses, and automated approaches to development are relatively well in hand as proof of concept examples (Braun, 1994; Clauser, Margolis, Clyman, & Ross, 1997; Bennett, 2001).

  • - Authoring components to create integrated testing systems have been described by Frase and his colleagues (in press). Schema or template-based, multiple-choice development, and test management systems have made significant progress (Bejar, 1995; Bennett, in press; Chung, Baker, & Cheak, 2001; Chung, Klein, Herl, & Bewley, 2001; Gitomer, Steinberg, & Mislevy, 1995; Mislevy, Steinberg, & Almond, 1999).

  • - New assessment requirements, growing from federal statutes or from the expanded role of distance learning, will continue to propagate. Efficient means of online test design need to be built.

Much of the current effort has been devoted to improving computer-administered tests so that they provide more efficient administration, display, data entry, reporting, and accommodations. Ideally, computer administration will enhance measurement fidelity to desired tasks and the overall validity of inferences drawn from the results. A good summary of the promise of computerized tests has been prepared by Bennett (2001). Computerized scoring approaches for open-ended tasks have been developed. Present approaches to essay scoring depend, one way or another, on a set of human raters (Burstein, 2001; Burstein et al., 1998; Landauer, Foltz, & Laham, 1998; Landauer, Laham, Rehder, & Schreiner, 1997). Other approaches to scoring have used Bayesian statistical models (Koedinger & Anderson, 1995; Mislevy, Almond, Yan, & Steinberg, 2000) or expert models as the basis of performance scoring (Chung, Harmon, & Baker, in press; Lesgold, 1994). Let us assume that only propositional analyses of text remain to be done. These scoring approaches will apply ultimately to both written and oral responses.


If we argue that a significant R&D investment is needed to improve test design and, therefore, our confidence in test results, let us envision software tools that result in solving hard and persistent problems, as well as advancing our practice significantly beyond what present stage. What is on our wish list? The goals of one or more configurations of a system are identified below:

  • - improved achievement information for educational decision making;

  • - assessment tasks that measure challenging domains, present complex stimuli, and employ automated scoring and reporting options;

  • - assessment tasks that are useful for multiple assessment purposes;

  • - reduced development time and costs of high-quality tests;

  • - support for users with a range of assessment and content expertise, including teachers; and

  • - reduced timelines for assembling validity evidence.

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