Construction Versus Choice in Cognitive Measurement: Issues in Constructed Response, Performance Testing, and Portfolio Assessment

By Randy Elliot Bennett; William C. Ward | Go to book overview
system. There is no requirement that students must, for example, have a particular fixed balance of narrative and expository pieces.
3. Sampling of District Performance. Most district-level decisions do not require data from each student. In order to get a sense of performance across an institution, sampling is appropriate. We are developing a district assessment system whereby a sample of student writing portfolios will be assessed on a limited set of criteria. The criteria emanate from the in-depth discussions that have been held around student portfolios by classroom teachers. Thus, the criteria, though fairly general, maintain the basic epistemological and pedagogical structure seen as important in the classroom. Second, there are multiple criteria that reflect the multifaceted nature of writing. There is no attempt to aggregate scores on individual criteria into an arbitrary summary that eliminates meaningful references to writing. Instead, aggregation procedures will preserve unique criteria to delineate a picture of student performance. Reports will take the form of "Eight percent of students in Grade 10 exhibit satisfactory evidence of being able to communicate in writing for a variety of purposes." The standards that determine what constitutes satisfactory evidence will be determined in the manner detailed earlier.

The public reporting of data has several salubrious effects for educational accountability purposes. First, by using sampling techniques within an institution, one should be able to make defensible claims about performance, including any relevant breakdowns (e.g., female vs. male performance). Second, the characteristics of performance that are reported make clear to the public those curricular goals that are deemed important by the institution. Claiming that most students are, for example, able to critically analyze a scientific argument describes more about the goals of a science education system than simply saying that the mean percentile ranking of students in science on some standardized instrument is 75. Third, the relationship between classroom goals and institutional goals is sympathetic. Because the characteristics described in the institutional summary emanate from classroom goals, the mixed message "This isn't important, but we need to do it for the test" is not in evidence. Thus, we are hoping to create a situation in which students, teachers, and institutions are judged on performance that they value.


CONCLUSIONS
Educational performance assessment in this country is very much in its formative stages. The following lists some of the most important issues that need to be addressed:
1. The educational assessment community must understand the nature of the inferences made on the basis of performance assessment and develop

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