with vivid simulations of real-world situations, and in ways that are tightly integrated with instruction. Chapter 7 provides examples of how technology is making it feasible, for instance, for students to receive ongoing individualized feedback as they work with a computerized tutoring system—feedback more detailed than what a teacher could have provided a class of 30 students in the past.

This report describes a variety of promising assessment innovations that represent first steps in capitalizing on these opportunities. However, most of these examples have been limited to small-scale applications that have yet to affect mainstream assessment practice. In this final chapter, we discuss priorities for research, practice, and policy to enable the emergence of a “new science of assessment.” First, however, we summarize some of the main points from the preceding chapters by describing a vision for a future generation of educational assessments based on the merger of modern cognitive theory and methods of measurement.


In the future envisioned by the committee, educational assessments will be viewed as a facilitator of high levels of student achievement. They will help students learn and succeed in school by making as clear as possible to them, their teachers, and other education stakeholders the nature of their accomplishments and the progress of their learning.

Teachers will assess students’ understanding frequently in the classroom to provide them with feedback and determine next steps for instruction. Their classroom practices will be grounded in principles of how students think and learn in content domains and of assessment as a process of reasoning from evidence. Teachers will use this knowledge to design assessments that provide students with feedback about particular qualities of their work and what they can do to improve.

Students will provide evidence of their understanding and thinking in a variety of ways—by responding to teachers’ questions, writing or producing projects, working with computerized tutoring systems, or attempting to explain concepts to other students. Teachers, in turn, will use this information to modify instruction for the class and for individuals on the basis of their understanding and thinking patterns.

Teachers will have a clear picture of the learning goals in subject domains, as well as typical learning pathways for reaching those goals. Ultimate and intermediate learning goals will be shared regularly with students as a part of instruction. Students will be engaged in activities such as peer and self-assessment to help them internalize the criteria for high-quality work and develop metacognitive skills.

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