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Journal Article

A Systems Approach to Educational Testing

John R. Frederiksen and Allan Collins
Educational Researcher
Vol. 18, No. 9 (Dec., 1989), pp. 27-32
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176716
Page Count: 6
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A Systems Approach to Educational Testing
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Abstract

Our concern in this paper is with the validity of educational tests when they are employed 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. We introduce the concept of systemically valid tests as ones 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. We analyze some general characteristics that contribute to or detract from a testing system's systemic validity, such as the use of direct rather than indirect assessment. We then apply these characteristics in developing a set of design principles for creating testing systems that are systemically valid. Finally, we provide an illustration of the proposed principles, 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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