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Through-Course Summative Assessments: Measurement Challenges, Choices, and Trade-Offs Within the Comprehensive Assessment Consortia Designs


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Henry Braun, PhD, Boisi Professor, Education and Public Policy Education Research, Measurement, and Evaluation, Lynch School of Education, Boston College
Pascal D. Forgione, Jr., PhD, Executive Director, Center for K–12 Assessment & Performance Management at ETS
Andrew Ho, PhD, Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Robert Rothman, Senior Fellow, Alliance for Excellent Education
Lauress Wise, PhD, Principal Scientist, Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO)
Rebecca Zwick, PhD, Distinguished Presidential Appointee, Statistical Analysis and Psychometric Research Area,Educational Testing Service (ETS)

The two state consortia (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) that are developing new comprehensive assessments to measure the common core state standards have proposed ambitious plans that push the envelope of measurement practice in the United States. While these plans have the potential to improve assessment, they also pose a number of technical challenges. One of the most challenging ideas is the notion of using “through-course” assessments, in addition to end-of-course tests, as part of a summative system for accountability purposes.

On  March 10, the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Center for K–12 Assessment & Performance Management at ETS (K–12 Center) hosted a webinar to consider some of the most salient measurement challenges associated with the use of through-course summative assessments. Some of the nation’s leading measurement experts—Henry BraunPascal D. Forgione Jr.Andrew HoLauress Wise, and Rebecca Zwick—discussed issues such as scaling, linking, and reporting; aggregating results from through-course assessments; and interpretations of student growth over time. Robert Rothman servef as moderator. The webinar looked at the design of the two consortia’s assessments, and the choices and trade-offs involved with these designs. The presentations were based on papers presented at a research symposium sponsored by the K–12 Center on February 10–11, 2011.

Supplemental Material
Coming Together to Raise Achievement: New Assessments for the Common Core State Standards, a report from the K–12 Center.

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance, visit

Created by Educational Testing Service (ETS) to forward a larger social mission, the Center for K–12 Assessment & Performance Management at ETS has been given the directive to serve as a catalyst and resource for the improvement of measurement and data systems to enhance student achievement.

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