In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Educational Assessment

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Analysis of Testing Data
  • Interpretation of Tests
  • Policy Implications

Education Educational Assessment
Terri Pigott, Joshua R. Polanin
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 December 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0051


Educational assessment can be defined as any effort to gather systematic evidence about the attainment of learning goals and objectives, either at the level of the individual student or at the level of a larger organization such as a school, district, or country. This bibliography focuses on methods for examining whether particular educational goals are met, rather than on the diagnosis of learning challenges for individual students. There are two main purposes of educational assessment in our schooling systems: accountability to ensure that certain learning goals are attained and instructional improvement to monitor student learning and the effectiveness of teaching practice. These two broad types of assessments, for accountability and for instructional improvement, encompass differing educational goals and as such may require different methods for their development and analysis. The terms “summative” and “formative” assessment have also been used to characterize the differences between using tests for accountability (summative) and for improvement of instruction and learning (formative). The resources for educational assessment have several different audiences, ranging from the classroom teacher to research methodologists interested in the statistical models used in large-scale assessments. This bibliography provides an overview of general resources for educational assessment, as well as more specific resources for the development, analysis, and interpretation of these assessments. The final section provides resources discussing the intended and unintended outcomes of educational assessment, especially for high-stakes accountability of educational systems.

General Overviews

The general overviews of educational assessment tend to focus either on a broad examination of assessment and measurement principles as applied in educational contexts, or on classroom practice and the use of tests to monitor students and improve instruction. The texts on educational assessment and measurement, such as McMillan 2010; Miller, et al. 2009; and Nitko and Brookhart 2011, are textbooks typically used in graduate classes on assessment. The overviews of classroom practice, such as Popham 2011 and Stiggins, et al. 2010, are texts used in courses on classroom assessment in teacher preparation programs.

  • McMillan, James H. 2010. Classroom assessment: Principles and practice for effective standards-based instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Allyn & Bacon.

    Directed at teachers and providing comprehensive coverage of research on assessments for accountability and instructional improvement. Includes chapters on developing commonly used assessments in classrooms.

  • Miller, M. David, Robert L. Linn, and Norman E. Gronlund. 2009. Measurement and assessment in teaching. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Pearson.

    One of the most widely used texts in graduate courses in educational assessment. Covers the foundations of assessment, including chapters on instructional goals, reliability, validity, and the role of assessment in teaching. Illustrates the construction of common classroom assessment tools such as objective tests, essay questions, performance-based assessments, and portfolios. Includes a discussion of published, standardized tests used in the United States, and interpretation of summary statistics associated with tests.

  • Nitko, Anthony J., and Susan M. Brookhart. 2011. Educational assessment of students. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Allyn & Bacon.

    Comprehensive overview of foundations of educational assessment. Used in graduate-level assessment courses. Illustrates construction of common classroom assessment tools, and interpretation of standardized tests.

  • Popham, W. James. 2011. Classroom assessment: What teachers need to know. Boston: Pearson Education.

    Popular text aimed at teachers. Covers foundations of assessment in accessible language, including chapters on reliability, validity, and construction of common assessment tools. Emphasizes the role that assessment can play in improving instruction.

  • Stiggins, Richard J., Judith A. Arter, Jan Chappuis, and Stephen Chappuis. 2010. Classroom assessment for student learning: Doing it right—using it well. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

    Text aimed at teachers. Provides practical advice about developing assessments and communicating results in various formats. Provides accessible discussion of standardized tests and their interpretation.

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