Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lessons Learned from a Psychometric Internship

“Meetings. Meetings. Meetings. How do these people get any work done?” This was one of my first impressions of Pearson. Well, as I quickly learned, much of the work gets done through the meetings. By including everyone with a need to know, and by meeting frequently, projects are kept moving forward smoothly with no items being overlooked or persons left out. Not only does this contribute to successful projects, but it helps build an esprit de corps where everyone realizes the value of their own and each others contribution to getting the job done.

Most images of a psychometric internship center around doing nothing but research. Mine was not like that. It was balanced between doing production work and research. As a result, I developed a better (and more favorable) understanding of a large scale psychometric testing process than I had ever imagined. My first week I started coding the opened answers from a survey administered to teachers to get feedback on how to improve the testing process for students with limited English who have language accommodations on tests. This was followed in later weeks by observing meetings with the Texas Technical Advisory Committee (invited scholars who provide insight into questions that Pearson and the Texas Education Agency have on the testing process), with panels of teachers invited to review new questions before they are put into the test bank, and with other panels who performed peer review of alternate assessments. Some of what goes into creating these panels and getting them together to do their work, I picked up from listening to the people who sat in adjacent cubes. There was a continuous conversation with school administrators about panelist selection, and with panelists about the mechanics of their coming to Austin to work for a few days. It was really amazing.

The research I did I was not able to complete. (I needed another month.) A disappointment, but I have topics to work on in the future; an appreciation of the breadth and depth of psychometrics that I did not have before, and professional and personal contacts with some of the sharpest people in the business.

C. Vincent Hunter
Psychometric Intern
Test, Measurement & Research Services

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