Not all assessment is built the same - how can we ensure positive learning outcomes?

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A104: Psychometrics in Educational Assessment is a new online course from Cambridge Assessment Network. The course outlines how quantitative methods from psychometrics can be used to improve the quality of educational assessments. Starting with simple statistical concepts, and providing enough detail so that participants can apply the techniques themselves, A104 is an accessible introduction in how to analyse assessment data to ensure tests are reliable, valid and fair.

Participants on the successful pilot of the course were from countries all over the world, from Australia to Zambia. The diverse group were made up of Senior School Leaders, Directors of Examinations, Assessment Managers and Technical Analysts amongst others. 

We caught up with Verónica Floretta, teacher and freelance assessment consultant from Uruguay, about her career in assessment, what she liked most about A104 and why the learning has been so valuable. 

Veronica Floretta

Verónica has been teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) at a high school since 2004 and has had a diverse career in assessment, from Head of English for a bilingual school to Associate Professor for a Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Assessment. 

She holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Assessment where her dissertation comprised of a validation study of an EFL diagnostic test using Kane’s framework. She wanted to participate in the pilot of A104 to refresh her knowledge in statistics and psychometrics for educational assessment (this time learning it in English!).

What does your day-to-day work as teacher and assessment consultant involve?

As an assessment consultant, mostly in the educational field, I am usually engaged in research regarding best practices in assessment for private regional stakeholders and national authorities. 

I also contribute to fellow teachers in their professional development journey, through the design and delivery of workshops, seminars, institutional projects and articles, covering issues such as marking, formative assessment, curriculum design and development, validity/reliability and differentiated instruction. 

As a teacher, I teach English as a foreign language (EFL) to teenagers and prepare them to take Cambridge International examinations.

What aspects of working in assessment do you like the most?

I find it rewarding when teachers discover the high value that assessment expertise brings to their classroom

Fortunately, there are many aspects of the job I enjoy. Being able to contribute to fellow teachers’ professional development in assessment is currently one of my dearest projects. 

I find it rewarding when teachers discover the high value that assessment expertise brings to their classroom and when you see that their thinking and speaking about assessment changes to a more professional tone. 

The expertise I have gained makes me feel confident when delivering a workshop at a regional or international event.

Why did you decide to enrol on A104: Psychometrics in Educational Assessment?

Taking into account the current situation regarding the pandemic and the obvious fact that we need to get ready for a new landscape regarding assessment, I thought that refreshing my knowledge on psychometrics would come in handy. And opportunities to think deeply about assessment and discuss with other specialists are never to be neglected. 

In both of my current roles, teaching and consulting, data collection and interpretation play a major role, they are key factors in my decision making daily. 

Opportunities to think deeply about assessment and discuss with other specialists are never to be neglected

Whether it be ranking candidates, assigning grades, measuring impact or in the assessment design process, I wanted to be better ready to support my clients and students in this unprecedented educational context. 


What did you like about the online learning style of the course?

Sometimes people have low expectations of online courses, but A104 is a great opportunity to prove them wrong.

The course is organised in nine weeks, each introducing principles of data collection and interpretation. Each week begins with a friendly video by a member of Cambridge Assessment’s team, which provides you with a clear overview of the week’s content. 

The content is well-paced and makes you reflect on the best ways to structure tests so they ensure positive learning outcomes - not only in high stakes testing but also in the classroom. 

Then, you find a variety of activities such as a reflection journal, discussion forums, reading materials, tutorial videos, quizzes and practical activities. Each of which aims to develop your understanding on relevant issues (reliability, validity, fairness, etc.) regarding test data collection and interpretation. 

The content is well-paced and makes you reflect on the best ways to structure tests so they ensure positive learning outcomes - not only in high stakes testing but also in the classroom. 

Discussing theoretical and practical issues with like-minded professionals from all over the world has been a highly valuable experience.

In what way has your day-to-day practice been impacted by this course?

The practical activities and apps provided allow you to actually undertake analysis using real data. That was by far my favourite part of the course and I have been inspired to redesign some research I have been doing regarding validity and reliability, from a much more grounded and confident position. 

I can spot students who might be struggling with an item, understand why and design a tailored response so they can improve their performance.

I feel better prepared to guide my students when training for high stakes tests as I can see what is behind the design and type of items included. 

The skills I developed for interpreting items have equipped me with a wider repertoire for my teaching - I can spot students who might be struggling with an item, understand why and design a tailored response so they can improve their performance.

I am also in charge of designing an exit EFL test for high school students and am planning to study the reliability and quality of the test items using what I have learnt. The informed decisions that I am able to take now, will guide any necessary changes to improve the quality of the test. I think it will have a great impact on the way we assess our students.

Cambridge Assessment Network is an accredited provider of assessment training and professional development. The Assessment Network exists in order to provide high-quality assessment training, underpinned by research, to Cambridge Assessment staff and the wider assessment community. A104: Psychometrics in Educational Assessment is one of four online courses offered, covering the fundamentals of assessment.

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