Technical Quality of Alternative Assessments
Because of the major differences between traditional and
alternative assessments, some educators argue that we must rethink
the technical quality criteria used to judge the quality of
alternative assessments. Linn, Baker, and Dunbar (1991) suggest the
following technical quality criteria:
- Consequences. Does the assessment have a positive
impact on educational practice?
- Fairness. Do performance ratings reflect the examinee's
true capabilities rather than the perceptions and biases of the
persons evaluating the performance?
- Transfer and Generalizability. Does performance on the
specific performance tasks in the alternative assessment generalize
to the broader domain of achievement from which the tasks are
- Cognitive Complexity. Does the task require problem
solving, critical thinking, comprehension, reasoning, and
metacognitive processes, or can the student perform well simply by
memorizing a process without understanding the underlying concept?
- Content Quality. Is the content consistent with the
best current understanding of the field and at the same reflect
what are judged to be aspects of quality that will stand the test
- Content Coverage. Does the assessment adequately sample
the breadth of possible important content?
- Meaningfulness. Does the assessment give students the
opportunity to deal with meaningful problems that provide
worthwhile educational experiences?
- Cost and Efficiency. Is the cost reasonable and are
data collection designs and scoring procedures efficient?
"In summary, serious validation of alternative
assessments needs to include evidence regarding the intended and
unintended consequences, the degree to which performance on
specific assessment tasks transfers, and the fairness of the
assessments. Evidence is also needed regarding the cognitive
complexity of the processes students employ in solving assessment
problems and the meaningfulness of the problems for students and
teachers. In addition, a basis for judging both the content quality
and the comprehensiveness of the content coverage needs to be
provided. Finally, the cost of the assessment must be justified."
(Linn, Baker, & Dunbar, 1991, p. 20)
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