As the role of testing in education is hotly debated, there’s no argument about one thing: Tests should be valid and meaningful.

Mo Zhang, center, with colleagues at Educational Testing Service.

As a graduate assistant at the WSU College of Education’s Learning & Performance Research Center (LPRC), Antonio Valdivia is gaining expertise in examining exams. The quality and reputation of the LPRC’s work is reflected in the recent  internships that sent Antonio and two of his fellow doctoral students, Chad Gotch and Mo Zhang, far from Pullman.

With the support of a Fulbright grant, Antonio interned in his home town of Monterrey, Mexico.  His main goal was to build a research network between the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon and the LPRC, which wants to begin analyzing educational and psychological tests that are administered in other cultures and languages.  Antonio raves about the value of the project to his career:  “It involves research networking and project development in  international, cross-cultural and large-scale settings — all of these in real-life situations.”

Mo interned at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey.  She was part of a team that compares electronic rating systems that are used to score students’ essays.  The challenge is to find a scoring system that can efficiently and accurately assess writing ability. “The learning experience was extraordinary,” Mo says. “It not only enhanced my knowledge and aptitude in conducting scientific research, but broadened my horizon in the field of psychometrics as well.”

Chad learned a lot about the politics that swirl around educational testing during his internship at the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment in Dover, New Hampshire.  While there, he worked on a handbook to assist Pennsylvania school districts in validating their student assessment systems. “The internship helped me to put together some disjointed pieces of knowledge I had floating around in my head, and to understand the forces driving trends in testing,” he said. “The people at the center were all brilliant, and I was able to connect with a lot of professionals at a national student assessment conference.”

The projects in which Mo and Chad participated have been submitted for presentation at national conferences next spring — hers at the National Council on Measurement in Education, his at the American Education Research Association.

More good news…

For those who didn’t see it linked from our Facebook page,  recent doctoral graduate and Clinical Assistant Professor Paul Mencke wrote a guest opinion for the Spokesman-Review newspaper: Teacher’s use of lyrics sound.

And Ph.D. alumna Jennifer Cowgill, a Pullman elementary school teacher, has won the Association of Literacy Educators & Researchers’ 2010 Dissertation Award.