Glossary Purpose

The purpose of this glossary is to provide an accessible dictionary of assessment-related terms for use by a non-technical, lay audience. This audience includes various consumers of assessments and assessment information who have had limited or no formal training regarding measurement and assessment. Examples of such individuals include: K-12 educators, parents of students, media writers, adult test takers, researchers who use assessment instruments or existing assessment results in their work, policy makers at the state and national levels, and higher education administrators in areas such as admissions or institutional research.

The intention of the glossary is to offer definitions for “technical terms” or “specialized jargon” in a way that might be readily understood by those who have not studied in the field or have not developed expertise through work experience in the field. Ease of interpretation and technical correctness were both goals in the development of glossary definitions. Some specialists or experts might provide more complex or “inclusive” definitions for some terms in order to be more exact. However, the approach used in developing this glossary was to err on the side of communicating simply with a lay audience rather than to ensure precision in expression that would be acceptable to specialists in the field when both criteria could not be met.

The terms included in the glossary cover a broad range of concepts and labels used in educational testing in the realms of achievement, aptitude, and psychological assessment. For achievement testing, this includes language associated with programs like NCLB (No Child Left Behind), RTTT (Race To The Top), APP (Advanced Placement Program), and NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), in addition to K-12 standardized achievement batteries and tests used in various subject-matter areas, like reading comprehension, for example. In the area of aptitude testing, programs like ACT, SAT, PSAT (Preliminary SAT) and other admissions tests would be included, as well as K-12 tests of cognitive abilities. For psychological assessments, instruments and score reports most commonly used in special education are included.