A New Direction in Testing and Assessment

Led by Kurt W. Fischer
Assessment should have a major role in what happens in classrooms and other learning environments. For many teachers and students, informal and quasi-formal assessment does shape teaching and learning. In contrast, the assessments of high-stakes testing are decontextualized and thus difficult to connect to learning environment. We must ask, what are we measuring? and what is worth measuring? Fortunately there are tools available for creating assessments with all the desirable properties of high-stakes tests that also relate directly to what happens in classrooms and other learning environments. The dynamic skill framework for analyzing learning and cognitive development provides a universal scale for assessing learning in any domain and a set of tools for characterizing learning sequences in school subjects and other real-world domains. We can use the latest in computer technology and learning science to build tests that are both standardized and formative, grounded in research about learning, and richly educative. With this new infrastructure for designing tests, known as the DiscoTestâ„¢ Initiative, we aim to change the practice of testing so that learners and teachers can use it to support learning and not merely to sort students for administrative and institutional purposes (as current testing mostly does).