Meeting the Needs of Learners in Educational Testing

In the UMass Amherst College of Education's Center for Educational Assessment, PhD and MEd students help develop student-centered tests, putting their classroom learning to work in the real world.
Researchers at the UMass Amherst Center for Educational Assessment

The UMass Amherst College of Education’s Center for Educational Assessment (CEA) is dedicated to developing educational tests that not only leverage the latest developments in technology (including artificial intelligence) but also meet the needs of stakeholders from all different cultural backgrounds. 

CEA was established in 2000 in response to the increased use of testing in educational reform movements, both in the U.S. and abroad. Today, the work being done at CEA seeks to put “the student at the center,” says Javier Suárez-Álvarez, associate professor and CEA associate director. “We really want to make sure the assessment is helpful for the learner.” 

CEA also serves as a valuable resource for educational policymakers and others who use tests to make important decisions. It hosts test development workshops, evaluates test translations, and helps teachers and policymakers better understand and use test results, among other services.

In the College of Education’s Research, Educational Measurement, and Psychometrics (REMP) doctoral program—founded by visionary Professor Emeritus Ronald Hambleton—students learn about educational test development; psychometric models, methods, and practices; educational statistics; and research and evaluation methods. 

“I think the Center for Educational Assessment is an important part of the learning at REMP because you learn the concepts in the classroom, and then the projects at the center give you an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in a real setting," says Ketan, a PhD student in the REMP program. "It helps you to work with practitioners and develop professional networks that you can use when you graduate.”

Anh Nguyen, also a PhD student in the REMP program, discusses projects she’s working on through CEA, including developing an effective English language proficiency test for adult learners in Massachusetts.

"I've worked closely with my professors and other students in REMP, and I did really learn a lot from that," Nguyen says.


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