Assessment & Policy Studies in Education M.Ed.

The master’s degree in assessment and policy studies is ideal for students seeking to understand the fundamental underpinnings of educational assessment and research and to apply this knowledge in the use of assessments and to inform policy in education. Many students pursue this advanced training to complement work they currently do in schools, departments of education, or testing agencies. The program consists of 11 courses in statistics, research methods, test theory, and policy, and a pro-seminar capstone course in which the course experiences are synthesized.

Core Competencies

The core competencies for the M.Ed. in Assessment and Policy Studies in Education include the ability to:

  1. Use and apply basic statistics
  2. Understand research methods used in quantitative research in education
  3. Understand the fundamentals of educational assessment development, both in large-scale contexts as well as at the classroom level
  4. Apply basic concepts of reliability and validity to educational assessments
  5. Understand how to choose appropriate assessment methods
  6. Understand how to administer, score, and interpret assessments
  7. Understand how to use assessment results to make decisions about students, curricula, or instruction
  8. Communicate assessment results and interpretation to a broad audience
  9. Recognize unethical, illegal, and inappropriate assessment methods and use of assessment information
  10. Understand how knowledge of assessment can be used to inform policy
poster paper with graph drawn on it in marker

Course of Study

Course Description Credits
  Required Courses  
EDUC 555 Introduction to Statistics and Computer Analysis I 3
EDUC 656 Introduction to Statistics and Computer Analysis II 3
EDUC 661 Educational Research Methods I 3
EDUC 753 Pro-seminar in Educational Assessment (Capstone Course) 3
  Assessment Courses (Choose 2)  
EDUC 632 Principles of Educational and Psychological Testing 3
EDUC 632A Fundamentals of Test Construction 3
EDUC 501 Classroom Assessment 3
  Test Theory Courses (Choose 1)  
EDUC 736 Item Response Theory 3
EDUC 735 Classical Test Theory 3
  Policy Courses (Choose 2)  
EDUC 633 Education and Public Policy 3
EDUC 654 Policy Studies in Educational Administration 3
EDUC 618 Law for School Leaders 3
EDUC 629 Policy Issues in International Education 3
EDUC 669 Policy & Legal Perspectives in Special Education 3
  Electives (Choose 2)  
EDUC 619 Qualitative Research Methods in Education 3
EDUC 650 Regression Analysis 3
EDUC 629 Policy Issues in International Education 3
EDUC 669 Policy & Legal Perspectives in Special Education 3
EDUC 679 Assessment of Special Needs Children & Youth 3
EDUC 862 Educational Planning and Evaluation 3

EDUC 555 Introduction to Statistics and Computer Analysis I

The purpose of this course is to give students in the social sciences and, in particular, education, skills in statistical reasoning so that they will be critical readers of research literature in their fields and in a position to design research studies and analyze data on their own.

EDUC 661 Educational Research Methods I

Essential skills for conducting educational research.  Stating purposes and hypotheses, instrument development, research design, sampling, data analysis, interpreting results, and preparing research projects.

EDUC 753 Pro-seminar in Educational Assessment

This course gives students experience in significant practices in educational testing/evaluation. Topics covered include computer-based testing, assessment policy, new directions in evaluation and validation, and how to write research reports.

EDUC 632A Fundamentals of Test Construction

Enables students to construct educational assessments using a variety of item formats such as multiple-choice and performance-based items. The entire development process, including item writing and item review are covered.

EDUC 736 Item Response Theory

Introduction to modern test theory, often called item response theory. Topics include shortcomings of classical models and methods, basic concepts and item response theory models, parameter estimation, goodness of fit  procedures, and specific applications including test development, detection of biased test items, test score equating, large-scale assessment, score reporting, and computer-adaptive testing. Prerequisite: Educ 735.

EDUC 735 Classical Test Theory

Theory of mental tests beginning with the classical test theory model and including such topics as reliability, validity, item analysis and test development.

EDUC 633 Education and Public Policy

Introduction to the roles of federal, state, and local government in US K-12 education policy, the diverse ways of studying education policy, and to specific current policy issues including educational accountability, school finance, the controversy over school-district regionalization in Massachusetts, challenges facing urban schools, and how research affects education policy debates.

EDUC 862 Educational Planning and Evaluation

The purpose of this course is to provide general understanding and practical experience in program evaluation as applied to the area of education.  Various methods of program evaluation will be studied.

Admissions

Applications to the Assessment and Policy Studies master's program can be submitted through the Graduate School. 

Application Timeline

The application deadline for fall admission is January 2.  

Prerequisites

Admissions criteria include a relevant interest in educational measurement issues, strong reference letters and transcripts, as well as GRE test scores. International students should also supply TOEFL scores.

Required Materials

Contact

Please address specific inquiries about admission, financial support, and the program to Jennie Southgate, jsouthgate@educ.umass.edu