Enhancing the Design and Delivery of Assessment Systems: A Four-Process Architecture

Russell Almond, Linda Steinberg, Robert Mislevy

Abstract


Persistent elements and relationships underlie the design and delivery of educational assessments, despite their widely varying purposes, contexts, and data types. One starting point for analyzing these relationships is the assessment as experienced by the examinee: 'What kinds of questions are on the test?,' 'Can I do them in any order?,' 'Which ones did I get wrong?,' and 'What's my score?' These questions, asked by people of all ages and backgrounds, reveal an awareness that an assessment generally entails the selection and presentation of tasks, the scoring of responses, and the accumulation of these response evaluations into some kind of summary score. A four-process architecture is presented for the delivery of assessments: Activity Selection, Presentation, Response Processing, and Summary Scoring. The roles and the interactions among these processes, and how they arise from an assessment design model, are discussed. The ideas are illustrated with hypothetical examples. The complementary modular structures of the delivery processes and the design framework are seen to encourage coherence among assessment purpose, design, and delivery, as well as to promote efficiency through the reuse of design objects and delivery processes.

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