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Cognition, Standards, and Assessment

**Pellegrino, J., Chudowsky, N., & Glaser, R. (Eds.) (2001). Knowing what students know: The science and design of educational assessment (pp. 44-51 and 177-220). Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences. Available at

We have included two excerpts from this book here. The first excerpt (pp.44-51) explains a framework for assessment design—the “assessment triangle.” The three corners of the assessment triangle are elements that underlie all assessments: a model of student cognition and learning in the domain, a set of beliefs about the kinds of observations that will provide evidence of students’ competencies, and an interpretation process for making sense of the evidence. The second excerpt (Chapter 5) describes the ways in which the elements of the triangle must work together. For instance, in order for an assessment to be effective, the elements of the assessment triangle must be explicitly connected and designed as a coordinated whole. The authors emphasize that the design of high-quality classroom and large-scale assessments is a complex process best characterized as iterative and interdependent, rather than linear and sequential.

Porter, A., McMaken, J., Hwang, J., & Yang, R. (2011). Common Core standards: The new U.S. intended curriculum.Educational Researcher, 40, 103-116. Available at

Beach, R. (2011). Issues in analyzing alignment of language arts common core standards with state standards.Educational Researcher, 40, 179-182. Available at

Cobb, P. & Jackson, K. (2011). Assessing the quality of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics.Educational Researcher, 40, 183–185. Available at

Porter, A., McMaken, J., Hwang, J., & Yang, R. (2011). Assessing the Common Core standards: Opportunities for improving measures of instruction. Educational Researcher, 40, 186–188. Available at

This set of four documents includes both an article summarizing a study comparing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to existing standards and assessments, commentary and critique of the study, and author responses. Unlike typical alignment studies that look specifically at the topics of the standards, this study also examined the cognitive demand embedded in the standards. Findings from this analysis suggest the CCSS represent considerable change from what states currently call for in their standards and in what they assess. In particular, the apparent emphasis on higher order cognitive demand contrasts with the practice of top-achieving countries, which tend to place greater emphasis on “performing procedures.” The articles that follow offer commentary on the study, including observations of the analysis framework, possible explanations for the findings, and implications for implementation of the CCSS.

**This document is considered a priority reading.