President's Message

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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

 

From Randy Bennett, ETS, President of NCME, June 2017

 

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  • It’s a great honor to have been elected president of NCME and I’m looking forward to serving the organization as best I can. Let me begin by describing the directions I hope the organization will move toward over the next year. Those directions are four in number and are quite ambitious. However, they are very important to NCME’s continued relevance and long-term success, so even incremental achievements in the service of each direction should be of considerable value!

    First, I’d like to see NCME influence the national discourse on testing and measurement through policy positions and other appropriate mechanisms that engage a variety of audiences. NCME should have a voice in policy related to testing and measurement. As an organization of skilled professionals, if we don’t speak out, we may be doing a disservice to those who use and are affected by the products and services the field provides. To help us find our policy voice, we are reconstituting the Committee on Informing Assessment Policy and Practice under Judy Koenig, who is based in Washington, DC, with NCME Vice President Rebecca Zwick serving as the Committee’s Board liaison. Judy and Rebecca are well qualified for these roles given their long histories of work in assessment policy. The NCME Board will also hold at least one meeting in Washington this year so that Board members can hear policymakers’ concerns and share NCME positions with them. In addition, it’s my hope that NCME will begin to hold periodic seminars in Washington for this group on assessment-related topics (including assessment literacy), perhaps in collaboration with like-minded organizations. So that we have something to say to policy makers, we’re beginning to formulate policy positions. Earlier this year, the Board approved a set of Principles and Procedure for Adopting Public Policy Positions and released a Position Statement on Student Participation in State Assessment, which was the subject of a recent Education Week article. Going forward, any member can suggest a policy position that he or she believes NCME should take by contacting Judy Koenig (JKoenig@nas.edu). If you have ideas, please contact her!

  • Second, I’d like to see NCME encourage research and development that makes assessment a stronger force for positive impact on teaching and learning. The discourse among policy makers, educators, and the public around testing is an overwhelmingly negative one. We need to redirect that discourse—especially around summative assessment—to a more constructive and positive one. This direction begins by asking, “How do we make assessment a stronger force for positive impact on teaching and learning? We’ll take an incremental step by making this question a theme of the 2018 conference, now being planned by program co-chairs April Zenisky and Charles DePascale, and training chair, Amanda Wolkowitz. If you have ideas for special sessions, invited speakers, or training sessions that can help define and exemplify positive impact, please let the chairs know!

  • Third, we will continue to encourage and promote the positive influences of classroom assessment on measurement, and the positive influences of measurement on classroom assessment. This direction, which complements the direction above, began under Mark Wilson’s presidency, and it’s critical to continue. It was the essence of the theme behind the very successful 2017 conference carried out by program co-chairs Lydia Liu and Billy Skorupski, along with training chair Sun-Joo Cho. Mark was responsible for establishing the Classroom Assessment Task Force, which is creating a 5-year plan for the organization’s activities in this area. Working with Board Member Dale Whittington and past Board Member Kristen Huff, the task force has planned the first NCME Special Conference on Classroom Assessment and Large-Scale Psychometrics, which will take place September 12-14 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The conference will be hosted by the university’s Achievement and Assessment Institute, which is directed by Neal Kingston. Please make plans to be there!

  • Finally, I’d like to see NCME take greater advantage of its international character. We may be the National Council on Measurement in Education but the fact is that we have members from around the world and even our domestic membership includes many individuals with very strong international connections. The methodology that our members invent, refine, and apply is general and crosses national boundaries quite easily. We can take an incremental step toward more explicitly recognizing our international character by including a strand in our 2018 conference, and what better time to celebrate that character than now? A bigger step that I’d like to see NCME consider is the establishment of the first in a potential series of foreign language journals—rigorous, peer-reviewed publications under the NCME umbrella. That series might conceivably begin with a Chinese publication because the assessment community in that country is large and so is the domestic Chinese representation in our membership, providing the potential for a significant audience, a large pool of qualified peer reviewers, and a well of possible manuscripts. Such a journal would ideally build a bridge, bringing work from a dynamic overseas assessment community to the United States and, simultaneously, allowing members in our own domestic community to write for an overseas scientific audience. Li Cai of the NCME Publications Committee (led by Chair Will Lorie, with Board Liaison Derek Briggs) is exploring this early-stage idea with colleagues in China. The vision is that the journal would accept articles in either Chinese or English and, ideally, publish each article in both languages so that all NCME members could benefit. If successful, other NCME foreign-language publications could follow. It should be noted that the intent is not to change the U.S. focus of NCME, nor to duplicate the missions of other organizations like the International Test Commission (ITC), the Psychometric Society, or the International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA), but rather to enhance what NCME already does (i.e., attract foreign members, influence measurement research and practice overseas, and serve our core domestic membership). Foreign-language publications might be one way to achieve those goals more effectively. This idea is, as stated, an early-stage one for which we need more information about the potential audience, the journal’s substantive focus, and the challenges involved with translation, among other things. Be assured that no action will be taken without thorough discussion and approval by the Board to ensure that such action is in the best interests of NCME. If you have reactions to this idea, positive or negative, please email me (rbennett@ets.org), with a copy to Executive Director Emily O’Connor (eoconnor@fernley.com). We very much want to hear from you!

  • The coming year will be a very exciting one and I look forward to hearing from you—and working with you—with respect to realizing these admittedly ambitious but critically important directions.


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