Principles and Practices of Performance Assessment is the result of a research project conducted by Pelavin Research Institute (PRI), an affiliate of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), under a contract with the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) of the U.S. Department of Education (contract number RR91172004). In 1991, OERI issued a request for proposals entitled Studies of Education Reform." Twelve studies were incorporated under this general heading, each reflecting some aspect of the reform movement that had placed education at the forefront of the national agenda in the late 1980s. PRI was awarded a 3-year contract to study assessment reform, which we interpreted to mean the contribution of performance-based, nonmultiple-choice assessments to education reform.
As part of the study, we visited 16 schools across the country that were participating in the development or implementation of performance assessments as a result of national, state, district, or local assessment reform initiatives.
This book begins, in chapter 1, with an overview of the historical and contemporary issues related to assessment reform. In chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5, we present our cross-site analysis and discuss our findings regarding the key characteristics of performance assessments, the facilitators and barriers in assessment reform, factors that affect teachers' ability to use new assessment techniques in their classrooms, and the impact of assessments on teaching and learning. Finally, in chapter 6, we summarize the key findings of the study and the policy and research implications of those findings. Appendix A identifies the specific study objectives and provides an overview of the study design. Appendix B summarizes the case studies we conducted of the 16 schools that participated in our study. Appendix C lists the research questions that drove the study.
The support and participation of several individuals and institutions made this study possible. We are grateful to the state and district education agency personnel and to the principals, teachers, students, parents, and school-board members who devoted large amounts of their precious time to answer our