Volume 29, Number 4
Assessing the New Common Core Tests
An interview with Joan L. Herman
Joan L. Herman has studied the science of student assessment for more than 30 years. She is the former director and current senior scientist at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the editor of Educational Assessment. Herman is also a technical adviser to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which, with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), is one of the two state consortia developing tests to assess individual students under the Common Core State Standards beginning next year. HEL editor Nancy Walser talked with Herman recently about how these new tests are shaping up. This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.
How are these two tests being developed?
Very differently than in the past. Right now, in many states, test developers are given the standards to measure; they disappear into what we call a “black box,” and out comes a test that supposedly measures the standards. Afterward, someone does a study that assesses the alignment between the standards and the assessment to see how well the test actually addresses the content and the intellectual demands that the standards call for. What’s new is that the consortia are using evidence-centered design (ECD), where alignment is built in from the beginning of test development, and the process is very transparent. So people—whether they are parents, teachers, or policy makers—if they take the time, can see what is being assessed and how.