conjecture about their consequences for children, teachers, policy makers, and the public. Other applications of technology are beyond people’s speculative capacity. A decade ago, for example, few could have predicted the sweeping effects of the Internet on education and other segments of society. The range of computational devices and their applications is expanding at a geometric rate, fundamentally changing how people think about communication, connectivity, and the role of technology in society (National Research Council [NRC], 1999b).
The committee believes new information technologies can advance the design of assessments based on a merger of the cognitive and measurement sciences. Evidence in support of this position comes from several existing projects that have created technology-enhanced learning environments incorporating assessment. These prototype cases also suggest some future directions and implications for the coupling of cognition, measurement, and technology.
Two important points of clarification are needed about our discussion of the connections between technology and assessment. First, various technologies have been applied to bring greater efficiency, timeliness, and sophistication to multiple aspects of assessment design and implementation. Examples include technologies that generate items; immediately adapt items on the basis of the examinee’s performance; analyze, score, and report assessment data; allow learners to be assessed at different times and in distant locations; enliven assessment tasks with multimedia; and add interactivity to assessment tasks. In many cases, these technology tools have been used to implement conventional theories and methods of assessment, albeit more effectively and efficiently. Although these applications can be quite valuable for various user groups, they are not central to this committee’s work and are therefore not discussed here. Instead, we focus on those instances in which a technology-based innovation or design enhances (1) the connections among the three elements of the assessment triangle and/or (2) the integration of assessment with curriculum and instruction.
The second point is that many of the applications of technology to learning and assessment described in this chapter are in the early stages of development. Thus, evidence is often limited regarding certain technical features (e.g., reliability and validity) and the actual impact on learning. The committee believes technological advances such as those described here have enormous potential for advancing the science, design, and use of educational assessment, but further study will clearly be needed to determine the effectiveness of particular programs and approaches.