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Assessments embrace a wide array of formats (observations, performance measures, portfolios, essays).The term “assessment” is often used to communicate the intention to build a richer picture of the ways in which people think, learn, and work.
No single type of assessment can serve all of these purposes; the intended purpose will determine what sort of assessment is most appropriate.
There is much to be learned from the experience in other educational settings about the uses, misuses, and unintended consequences of testing (e.g., Haertel, 1989; Gifford, 1993; National Research Council, 1982a; U. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, 1992; Shepard, 1991).
Experts agree on a number of guiding principles that apply to any setting in which tests or assessments are used in decision processes (see, for example, American Education Research Association, American Psychological Association, National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999; Shepard et al., 1998; National Research Council, 1999a).
Perhaps the most important of these is that no single procedure should be the sole basis for decisions, or, put positively, important educational decisions should be grounded in multiple sources of information.
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There are both individually administered and group-administered standardized tests.
The group-administered multiple-choice format is what people often have in mind when the term is used.
This means that school officials and teachers must inform themselves.
They need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of various assessment approaches for the purposes they have in mind.