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If standardized testing were just now invented, with no predispositions or expectations about its use, how would we use it? The most important theme to keep in mind is that standardized tests are not all the same. They vary in length, format, content, purpose etc. in innumerable ways. The same assessment may be highly appropriate in one circumstance, and highly inappropriate in another. If one could design a system so that all tests in an education system were complementarily used to maximize their collective social benefit, what would that collection of tests look like? Which types of tests would be used where and when?
This presentation responds to these questions, recognizing that there is no single correct answer. An impressive body of research evidence will inform the talk; some of the most informative, from cognitive psychologists, is fairly recent. Topics will include cognitive load theory; the interplay between stakes and security, and stakes and motivation; retrieval, spacing, and other cognitive science concepts; the role of format (selected response, constructed response, authentic, etc.); and, more generally, the role of assessment in students’ intellectual development.