Opening Remarks

Kadriye Ercikan, ETS Canada President, CEO

I am delighted to welcome you to the first Advancing Assessment and Evaluation Conference, organized jointly by ETS Canada and Queens University. Many thanks go to Liane Patsula, Managing Director of ETS Canada, and Saad Chahine, Assistant Professor of Measurement and Assessment at Queens University. I know that they have been working very hard to organize the event for several months.

More than 400 registrants from around the world have signed up for the conference. I am delighted to see so many colleagues and friends join us today. I know that we have a small assessment and evaluation community in Canada, and I am delighted to see this level of interest in the conference. I think it speaks to our need to connect and exchange ideas on important topics around assessment and evaluation. I hope that we will get to meet each other in person at the next conference.

I also want to acknowledge the critical juncture at which this conference is being held.

It’s a critically important time for us to revisit the role of assessment and evaluation to meet current and future societal needs globally. Over the past two years, the COVID pandemic has disrupted education around the world. Practices in schooling, teaching, learning, and assessment have changed dramatically. Disparities in opportunity have grown with regard to the educational opportunities for quality education available to students from different cultural and social backgrounds. These disparities, which existed before the pandemic but may have been ignored or dismissed, have become clearer than ever, increasing concerns about equity and social justice.

Combined with these social changes, the impact of climate change is rapidly threatening life on earth as we know it.

There is heightened responsibility and urgency for reimagining education to meet immediate, significant needs, as well as long term possibilities. We need to focus on addressing inequities, and we need to focus on promoting collaboration and cooperation globally to address the pandemic, climate change, and future global challenges and transform education to meet new realities of lives of students and societal needs.

Assessments and evaluations have a critical role to play in transforming education. I highlight three goals in order to serve effective changes.

Assessments need:

  • to be driven by the need to address inequities in societies;

  • to be grounded in sociocultural contexts of learners; and

  • to use technology to meet these goals instead of exacerbating inequities and adding new biases.

With these goals in mind, we need research to rethink the way assessments are designed, what kinds of data contribute to measurement, and using technology to advance the science of measurement.

To facilitate their use in addressing inequities, assessments need to engage students from different backgrounds effectively; provide quality measurement of all students; be adaptive to different abilities, backgrounds and interests; and need to be designed to optimize performance and information about learners to guide decisions about improving learning.

Grounding assessments in sociocultural context of learners requires taking this context into account in all aspects of assessments, including construct definition, task design, measurement, and interpretation. Assessments should reflect student cultural backgrounds and identities, not just those of mainstream cultures but for all students. They should also optimize “equivalence of evidence” instead of equivalence and standardization of testing and prioritize making contextualized interpretation of assessment. Technology can play an important role in meeting some of the goals of assessments. Effective use of artificial intelligence can help provide feedback and guide and tailor assessments to diverse learners. Digital assessments can facilitate assessment of engagement in learning, not just assessment of outcomes. Data captured in digital assessments, such as response process data, can enhance measurement models. Adaptivity and interactivity made possible in digital assessments can be used to improve measurement.

We are hoping that this conference will serve to start conversations and collaborations. We hope that they will help to leverage our joint expertise and resources in advancing assessment and evaluation to facilitate the transformation in our critical educational and societal context.

Many thanks for joining us. Let’s get the conversations started!