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.

Admissions Requirements

Applications for admittance to the Research, Educational Measurement, and Psychometrics master’s and doctoral programs are due by January 2nd. You will need the following in order to apply:

  • Transcripts
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Cover Letter outlining interest in the field and previous experience
  • GRE Scores
  • TOEFL (if first language is not English)

Diversity among student backgrounds and experiences is desired (see Diversity and Inclusion Statement here). To this end, REMP faculty consider the totality of the applicants as reflected in their application materials. Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to convey to the faculty a more holistic view of your strengths and potential contributions to the program. Similarly, letters of recommendation are reviewed carefully for each applicant. There are no minimum GRE cut scores for admission to REMP. We encourage all students, particularly those from underrepresented and historically marginalized groups, to apply regardless of test scores. 

Application Process

The application for admission and specific information on graduate application processes is located on the University of Massachusetts Graduate School website here

Financial Assistance

Graduate Assistantships
Students may obtain research opportunities through the Center for Educational Assessment (grants/contracts) or from research institutions/centers on campus. Being a graduate assistant/research assistant requires a commitment of 20 hours per week and the specific responsibilities vary according to project requirements. Graduate/research assistantships come with a tuition waiver and individual health insurance. The REMP program is able to offer between 12-15 graduate assistantships each year. Students applying to REMP will automatically be considered for graduate assistantships.

Fellowships
The Graduate School and the College of Education offer fellowships that cover tuition, health insurance, and provide a stipend. Students applying to REMP will automatically be considered for fellowships.

Diversity Fellowships
REAL Fellowship: Students from underrepresented groups are automatically considered for the Research Enhancement and Leadership Fellowship (REAL). The purpose of this fellowship is to promote diversity among graduate students by providing summer support for full-time graduate students. Details about this fellowship can be found here.

STEM Diversity Fellowship: Students from underrepresented groups are automatically considered for the STEM Diversity Fellowship. The goal of this program is to support the recruitment and retention of talented and promising graduate students from groups that are underrepresented in the disciplines, the professoriate or among recipients of doctoral degrees. This fellowship sustains the academic excellence and inclusiveness of the UMass Amherst graduate student community and the entire campus by promoting greater diversity among our graduate students.

Scholarships
A number of scholarships are available through the College of Education. Students must apply for College of Education scholarships each year. Scholarship information can be found here.

Funding for Student Travel
Current students who present at national conferences (i.e. NCME, AERA) are often granted travel funds from the College of Education and/or REMP.

Housing

Graduate students are required to find their own housing. There are several options on campus, and can be found by visiting the UMass Graduate School's Housing Page.

Additionally, there are several apartment complexes conveniently located on the bus route. Information regarding the housing opportunities in the Amherst area can be found at UMass Commuter Services and Housing Resource Center. Other resources include the classified sections of local newspapers, such as the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Springfield Republican.

University of Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Statement

The University prohibits unlawful discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), and retaliation against anyone based on religion or religious belief, color, race, marital status, veteran or military status, age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, disability, genetic information, or any other legally protected class, in education, admission, access to or treatment in, its programs, services, benefits, activities, and terms and conditions of employment at the University.

Contact

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