EDC Center for Children and Technology
(TR2) A Systems Approach to Educational Testing

This paper is concerned with the validity of educational tests when they are e-ployed as critical measures of educational outcomes within a dynamic system. The problem of validity arises if an educational system adapts itself to the characteristics of the outcome measures. The concept of systemically valid tests is introduced; these are tests that induce curricular and instructional changes in education systems (and learning strategy changes in students) that foster the development of the cognitive traits that the tests are designed to measure. General characteristics are analyzed that contribute to or detract from a testing systemÕs systemic validity, such as the use of direct rather than indirect assessment. These characteristics are then applied to the development of a set of design principles for creating testing systems that are systemically valid. Finally, the proposed principles are illustrated, by applying them to the design of a student assessment system. This design example addresses not only specifications for the tests, but also the means of teaching the process of assessment to users of the system.

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