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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

1 - The Learning Sciences in Educational Assessment: An Introduction

Summary

Victor Hugo is credited with stating that “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” In educational achievement testing, a multi-billion-dollar activity with profound implications for individuals, governments, and countries, the idea whose time has come, it seems, is that large-scale achievement tests must be designed according to the science of human learning. Why this idea, and why now? To begin to set a context for this idea and this question, a litany of research studies and public policy reports can be cited to make the simple point that students in the United States and abroad are performing relatively poorly in relation to expected standards and projected economic growth requirements (e.g., American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993; Chen, Gorin, Thompson, & Tatsuoka, 2008; Grigg, Lauko, & Brockway, 2006; Hanushek, 2003, 2009; Kilpatrick, Swafford, & Findell, 2001; Kirsch, Braun, & Yamamoto, 2007; Manski & Wise, 1983; Murnane, Willet, Dulhaldeborde, & Tyler, 2000; National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983; National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008; National Research Council, 2005, 2007, 2009; Newcombe et al., 2009; Phillips, 2007; Provasnik, Gonzales, & Miller, 2009). According to a 2007 article in the New York Times, Gary Phillips, chief scientist at the American Institutes for Research, was quoted as saying, “our Asian economic competitors are winning the race to prepare students in math and science.”

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