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International Conference Will Examine Issues of Validity, Educational Assessment, Equity and Accountability

International stakeholders will gather for a conference and institute, from March 28 through March 31, to discuss how standardized tests and other assessments are constructed, what they measure, and whether the results are appropriately used.

Sparks have flown lately about standardized achievement tests – how they are constructed, what they measure, and how the results are used. Many have criticized federal No Child Left Behind legislation for encouraging teachers to focus too much on test preparation at the expense of a well-rounded curriculum. Teachers and their unions cried foul when New York City and Los Angeles publicly released individual teachers’ rankings based in part on their students’ test scores.

Their main criticism:  Even if tests were valid measures of students’ achievement and prospects for success, publicly linking students’ standardized test scores to teacher effectiveness is unfair and demoralizing to teachers. Test makers generally agree on this point but also say that when test data are used inappropriately to evaluate schools or teachers in ways they were never meant to, what you get are invalid conclusions.

An international conference at Teachers College on March 28 and 29 will bring stakeholders together from around the world to discuss this highly volatile topic, specifically, how are standardized tests and other assessments constructed, what do they measure, and are test results appropriately used? The Assessment and Evaluation Research Initiative (AERI) at Teachers College, Columbia University and Educational Testing Service (ETS) will co-host the conference,  “Educational Assessment, Accountability, and Equity: Conversations on Validity Around the World,”  on March 28 and 29 at the Cowin Center, located on 120th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. The conference will be followed by an inaugural AERI Institute on March 30 and 31, where educators, researchers, policymakers, and others can take short courses on assessment and evaluation topics and learn more about appropriate uses of various kinds of data, including test scores.

Admission to the conference is $249 for the general public and $50 for graduate students. The institute courses cost $250 each for the general public and $150 for graduate students.

For additional information about the agenda, speakers, institute faculty and courses or to register, go here.

“Validity of the information we get from many of the most widely used and visible assessment programs, such as state assessments created under No Child Left Behind, college admission exams, or international achievement tests like the TIMSS and PISA, often breaks down because of misuses or highly inappropriate uses of the data in applied contexts,” said Madhabi Chatterji, Associate Professor of Measurement, Evaluation and Education, and Director of AERI, who co-organized the conference with Eugenio Gonzalez and Alina Von Davier of ETS, the nonprofit educational testing and research organization. AERI was established in 2006 to promote meaningful use of assessment and evaluation information in educational practice and policy contexts, internationally and across disciplines.

Part of the problem comes down to “the politics of test use, the technical complexities of assessment development, and how the data get processed afterwards,” says Chatterji. “Results become incomprehensible to many end users and stakeholders who rely on the assessments for making important decisions.” She adds: “Assessment designers and assessment users frequently work from different sets of assumptions when they think about educational assessments. Because these two groups—unintentionally and inadvertently— lose touch with one another’s needs, test results end up serving purposes for which they were not originally intended. This is another reason why we see widespread problems of invalid assessment use.”

She hopes the conference will build understandings among technical and non-technical stakeholders of educational testing and assessment programs about why validity problems recur and how the status quo can be changed.
The event will be opened by President Susan H. Fuhrman of TC and ETS’s Senior Vice President of Research & Development Ida Lawrence, who will be introduced by Deputy Provost John Allegrante. The event will be closed by Thomas James, Provost and Dean at TC, whose Provost's Investment Fund provided start-up funds for the inaugural event. “This conference exemplifies the leading-edge work of Teachers College in educational improvement," observes Provost James. "No issue is more central to the growth of learning worldwide than ensuring fair and accurate measurement of human growth, so the work of these deliberations has important implications for education everywhere.”

For more information about the conference, go here.

Validity, Fairness and Testing
Keynote: Michael Kane (Educational Testing Service)
Panelist 1: Edmund W. Gordon (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Panelist 2: Sebastien Georges (Centre international d'etudes pedagogiques, France)
Panelist 3: Kadriye Ercikan (University of British Columbia)
Panelist 4: Alina Von Davier (Educational Testing Service)
Moderator: Madhabi Chatterji (Teachers College, Columbia University)

Models of Teacher Evaluation and School Accountability Around the World
Keynote: Adrie Visscher (University of Twente, Netherlands)
Panelist 1: Aaron Pallas (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Panelist 2: Drew Gitomer (Rutgers University)
Panelist 3: Jakob Wandall (Independent Consultant, Denmark)
Panelist 4: Haniza Yon (MIMOS, Malaysia)
Moderator: Henry Levin (Teachers College, Columbia University)

Validity Issues in International Large Scale Assessments
Keynote: Michael Feuer (George Washington University)
Panelist 1: Hans Wagemaker (IEA)
Panelist 2: Eduardo Backhoff (Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Mexico)
Panelist 3: Robert Laurie (New Brunswick Ministry of Education, Canada)
Panelist 4: Val W. Plisko (retired – The National Center for Education Statistics)
Moderator: Eugenio Gonzalez (Educational Testing Service)

Bringing the Validity Conversations Home: When Education Measures Go Public
Keynote: Eva Baker (University of California – Los Angeles)
Panelist 1: Nick Lemann (Columbia University, School of Journalism)
Panelist 2: David Steiner (CUNY and previous Education Commissioner, NYS)
Panelist 3: Kevin Welner (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Panelist 4: Leo Casey (United Federation of Teachers, NYC)
Moderator: Jeffrey Henig (Teachers College, Columbia University)

AERI Institute Courses 2012

Duration: All courses are two days long (March 30-31)

Price: All courses are $250 for general public and $150 for graduate students

Course 1: The Logic of Causal Reasoning with Randomized Experiments and Quasi-experiments
Faculty: Dr. Judith Scott-Clayton, Teachers College, Columbia University

Course 2: Qualitative Interviews: Collecting and Analyzing Data
Faculty: Dr. Andrew Jordan Wright, Empire State College, The State University of New York

Course 3: What is a Case Study? Design and Implementation of Case Studies
Faculty: Dr. Lyle Yorks, Teachers College, Columbia University

Course 4: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
Faculty: Dr. Clive Belfield, Queens College, City University of New York and Dr. Henry M. Levin, Teachers College, Columbia University

Course 5: Value-added Models of Evaluation: Statistical Foundations, Assumptions, and Limitations
Faculty: Dr. Francisco Rivera-Batiz, Teachers College, Columbia University

Course 6: Using Standardized Test Data for Global and Multi-cultural Test-takers: Best Practices and Validity Standards
Faculty: Dr. Madhabi Chatterji and Dr. Michael Lau, Teachers College, Columbia University

Course 7: Assessment, Accountability and Accreditation Models in Higher Education Systems
Faculty: Dr. Judy R. Wilkerson, College of Education, Florida Gulf Coast University

Published Tuesday, Mar. 13, 2012


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