Assessment Design and Evaluation

The assessment of student learning is at the heart of the education enterprise. The field is in significant flux as researchers, policymakers, and school staff members struggle to identify the best way to assess what students know.

SRI has an impressive history of innovative assessment design. We lead the application of new and existing methods and technologies. SRI researchers help clients design effective assessments and document development procedures to support assessment validity.

SRI's work addresses design, implementation, and technical quality issues, incorporating the Principled Assessment Designs for Inquiry (PADI) approach. SRI researchers conduct, research, and review classroom, state, national, and international assessments in partnership with government and educational agencies, foundations, and commercial firms.

SRI specializes in the assessment of students with special needs, and in assessments involving new technologies, allowing clients to

  • Measure learning that matters, but is not measured by conventional multiple-choice tests

  • Validate the quality of assessments

  • Adapt assessments to better serve learners with disabilities

  • Help teachers use assessments to improve instruction and student learning outcomes


teacher working with a young student

SRI is working with a consortium of states to design alternate performance tasks that advance how the learning of students with significant cognitive disabilities is assessed.

young girl in wheelchair

SRI's ECO Center provides national leadership on measuring the outcomes of programs serving young children with delays and disabilities.

teacher working with a young student

SRI is evaluating the impact of teachers' participation in a U.S. Department of Education-sponsored program to achieve high standards for pre-K to grade 3 students in mathematics.

two girls looking at a world globe and smiling

Improving classroom assessment is potentially one of the most powerful ways to improve student achievement. To realize such gains, however, teachers must use classroom assessments formatively, that is, to adjust and improve instruction.

Two images of students working in classrooms

Conventional tests often fail to measure what is most important in student learning. Since 2001, SRI has been measuring important knowledge, skills, and abilities in science.

Teacher watches educational video program with young students

SRI and its partner are building on a groundbreaking scientific study of how public media materials can help low-income preschoolers develop key early literacy skills.

mother holding young son in her arms

SRI is studying the quality of child outcomes data reported by states to the federal government under Part C and Part B Preschool services of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Press Releases

students working at computers

The combination of teacher-led and online instruction may improve education, but successful implementation requires adequate infrastructure, reliable technology, quality software content, and changes in classroom management practices, according to new SRI research.

Jeremy Roschelle, Ph.D.

Jeremy Roschelle, Ph.D., co-director of SRI’s Center for Technology in Learning, highlighted how education researchers can best leverage the vast amount of data about online learning that is now available for their studies.

Teacher with young students

SRI researchers are beginning an evaluation of the Midwest Expansion of the Child-Parent Center (CPC) program, an intervention that provides comprehensive educational and family-support services to at-risk pre-kindergarten through third-grade children.

SRI In the News

high school students in a classroom
Beacon College Leading the Way in Service of Learning Disabled

The article notes that according to the NLTS2 longitudinal study directed by SRI, many learning-disabled students do not actively seek out the supports they need to succeed in college.

Glencairn Kids Study Genetics

The STEMGenetics curriculum, which includes growing plants and using genetic information to predict their traits, was developed by Michelle Williams, associate professor of science education at MSU, and Angela DeBarger, senior research scientist with SRI International.

New Initiative Brings Genetic Studies Into Local Schools

STEMGenetics is a hands-on teaching program developed by science education professor Michelle Williams and Angela Haydel DeBarger, a senior education research scientist at SRI International.


With funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, SRI's Center for Technology in Learning studied the adoption of blended learning models in selected schools in California and Louisiana associated with five different charter management organizations during the 2011-12 school year.

For the Meeting Challenging Writing Standards in High-Need Schools evaluation, SRI conducted a randomized controlled trial to estimate the effects of the SEED professional development on teachers’ writing instruction and student argument writing across a national sample of elementary schools.

For the Meeting Challenging Writing Standards in High-Need Schools evaluation, SRI conducted a randomized controlled trial to estimate the effects of the SEED professional development on teachers’ writing instruction and student argument writing across a national sample of elementary schools.

This report presents results from the Ready To Learn Prekindergarten Transmedia Mathematics Study. Researchers found that preschool children who experienced a PBS KIDS Transmedia Math Supplement developed essential early mathematics skills.

Community colleges and their industry partners need insight into how to coordinate their resources to address changing workforce training needs. This poster illustrates how to check progress in building partnership capital and updating instructional programming.

Workforce educators have a range of approaches for developing and updating instructional programs that meet the needs of employers and industry. SRI researchers are conducting case studies of how such partnerships are established and sustained.

Contextualized instruction involves developing activities that involve students in applying knowledge in real-world situations, working on teams, reflecting on what they learned through an activity, and involves teachers in coaching more, which requires more formative assessment.

This report examines how community college and industry experts rated a problem-based learning curriculum. The report indicates that industry experts and instructors diverge in their expectations about how "real-world," problem-based learning curriculum needs to be.

The Domain-Specific Assessment project developed a set of tools and assessment items that measure students’ capacity to apply knowledge rather than simply memorize vast amounts of it. An overview of the approach to the methodology is presented in this paper.

This presentation focuses on a scenario-based assessment to measure how well college students learn.