Reframing Assessment Concepts


  • Catherine S. Taylor University of Washington
  • Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington



Educational Assessment, Learning, Models, Preservice Teachers, Psychometrics, Teacher Education, Teacher Made Tests, Test Reliability, Test Use, Test Validity, Testing Programs


We question the utility of traditional conceptualizations of validity and reliability, developed in the context of large scale, external testing, and the psychology of individual differences, for the context of the classroom. We compare traditional views of validity and reliability to alternate frameworks that situate these constructs in teachers' work in classrooms. We describe how we used these frameworks to design an assessment course for preservice teachers, and present data that suggest students in the redesigned course not only saw the course as more valuable in their work as teachers, but developed deeper understandings of validity and reliability than did their counterparts in a traditional tests and measurement course. We close by discussing the implications of these data for the teaching of assessment, and for the use and interpretation of classroom assessment data for purposes of local and state accountability.


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Author Biographies

Catherine S. Taylor, University of Washington

My main research focuses are large scale assessment development issues, validity theory, test theory, and research in the preparation of teachers. Current projects include studies of different scoring methods for performance-based tests in mathematics, reading, and writing, and a study of the philosophical foundations for and the social consequences of tests and testing practices.

Susan Bobbitt Nolen, University of Washington

My main research focus is the relationship between motivation and learning, and how this relationship develops over time. Current projects include investigations of how motivation develops differently depending on the learner¹s interpretation of their social context for learning. A second interest is in assessment in schools, and the effects of various policies and practices on teacher and student motivation.




How to Cite

Taylor, C. S., & Nolen, S. B. (1996). Reframing Assessment Concepts. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 4, 17.