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ETS Research and Development Works to Revolutionise Assessment


origin: ETS Research and Development Works to Revolutionise Assessment (

Princeton, N.J. — When leading education, science, or policy publications write about educational innovation, researchers at Educational Testing Service (ETS) are frequently featured as leaders in the drive to revolutionise standardised testing.
In the last year, at least three major publications — from Education Sector, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the George Lucas Educational Foundation — have highlighted the groundbreaking work ETS research and development staff is doing to integrate new ideas into national and school-based assessments. This work includes the Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (TRE) Project, and an initiative called Cognitively-Based Assessment of, for and as Learning (CBAL™).
The TRE Project was conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The final report from the project was released by NAEP in 2007. The CBAL program is a multi-year research and development project supported by the investment ETS makes in long-term research to improve educational assessment.
Both innovations are most recently featured in a new article by Bill Tucker, Chief Operating Officer of Education Sector titled, "Beyond the Bubble: Technology and The Future of Student Assessment," issued on February 17.
"TRE tested scientific inquiry skills such as the ability to find information about a given topic, judge what information is relevant, plan and conduct experiments, monitor one's efforts, organise and interpret results, and communicate a coherent interpretation," Tucker writes. "Technology permits the presentation of more complex, multi-step problems for students to solve in more useful and compelling ways than text [presentation] alone."
About the CBAL program, Tucker writes: "The cognitive model underlying CBAL ensures that the project's summative assessments, meant to be used for accountability purposes, accurately align with and assess all of the various dimensions of reading."
In the April 2008 issue of the Lucas Education Foundation's journal, Edutopia, Grace Rubenstein says about the CBAL program: "The ETS vision is to create a far longer assessment than today's quick-hit exams, then break that assessment up into many parts that could be done in short sessions over the course of a whole school year. The added time would allow test makers to use open-ended tasks that call on multiple skills, and place the tasks in meaningful contexts."
Commenting on the cutting-edge research and technology-driven test development done by ETS and others, Edys Quellmatz and James Pellegrino write in the January 2009 AAAS issue of Science, about "A next generation of assessments [that] is attempting to… overcome many of the limitations of conventional practices. A goal is to harness technology to enable assessment of those aspects of cognition and performance that are complex and dynamic and that were previously impossible to assess directly." The NAEP TRE project is again cited as one example of such innovation.
The articles feature the efforts of a number of ETS staff members, including Distinguished Research Scientist Randy Bennett, and Assessment Specialists Hilary Persky and Andrew R. Weiss. For further information on ETS's innovative assessment projects, visit:
Featured Articles
Quellmalz, E. S., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2009). Technology and Testing. Science, 323, pages 75-79.
Rubenstein, G. (2008). Ending Hit-and-Run Testing: ETS Sets Out to Revolutionise Assessment. Edutopia.
Tucker, B. (2009). Beyond the bubble: Technology and the future of student assessment. Washington, DC: Education Sector.
About ETS
At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customised solutions for teacher certification, English-language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® test and The Praxis Series™ assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.

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