Measurement Overview for Prospective Students

What is educational measurement?

Educational measurement is the science underlying the valid and reliable assessment of teaching and learning for individuals in grades K through 12, higher education, and certain professions, such as for licensing and certification. The science of educational measurement is called psychometrics and the people who work in this field are called psychometricians. It is critical that assessments are carefully designed and that results are interpreted accurately and used properly. That’s where psychometricians enter the picture.

We have all taken tests as students. One need only pick up a newspaper or magazine to know that results of state and national tests are big news. But did you know that the results of state and national assessments, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), are used to inform a variety of practices and policies? From the way students are taught, to how governments fund our schools, to whether students advance to the next grade or graduate from high school, psychometricians can have a big impact.

What kind of training is required?

Measurement professionals come from a variety of educational backgrounds—psychology, sociology, mathematics, K–12 education, and health-related fields—as well as the field of measurement itself. In all cases, graduate training is a must. Graduate programs in education or psychology with a concentration in measurement are a popular route to a career in psychometrics, as are programs in curriculum and instruction or educational psychology. Many professionals develop an interest in measurement through academic work involving measurement applications, such as education, the behavioral sciences, medicine, or business. Approximately 80 graduate schools in the United States offer advanced degrees in educational measurement or a related field (see Graduate Program Descriptions in our Career Center).

©2015 National Council on Measurement in Education