Assessment in Higher Education: Issues of Access, Quality, Student Development, and Public Policy

By Samuel J. Messick | Go to book overview

9
A THEORY-BASED FRAMEWORK FOR FUTURE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS TESTS

Howard T. Everson
The College Board

What will college admissions tests look like in the future? Speculating about the future, particularly in the field of educational assessment, is risky business. Nevertheless, I will attempt it by sketching the outlines of a theory-based framework for the next generation of college admissions tests, with a focus on the SAT. Emphasizing the need for broader measures of developed cognitive abilities, model-based psychometrics, and increased access to assessments through the use of computer-based testing, this framework provides a vision of what we can expect in college admissions testing over the next 10 to 20 years ( Bennett, 1993, 1994; Frederiksen, Mislevy, & Bejar, 1993; Messick, 1994).

There are at least three very good reasons why the time is right to visit the issue of the future directions of college admission tests. The first is the continuing pressure from educational reformers to develop content, performance, and assessment standards for graduation from high school. These debates raise the inevitable question of how graduation standards might be made part of the college admissions process. Colleges and universities today are more and more becoming involved in the development of high school exit standards, and they are grappling with how these standards might fit in their admissions processes. If these trends continue unabated, the context, content, and role of standardized admissions tests will be influenced by the adoption of performance-based high school graduation standards.

Similarly, the technological advances characterizing today's "Information Age" will influence the content and form of college admissions tests in the future. The computer's potential for presenting test items and tasks using simulations and multi-media will move large-scale testing beyond the constraints of

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