Thursday, October 14, 2010

Success on the Largest Scale

This summer I had the pleasure of working with Heather Klesch, Senior Area Director, and Tracey Magda, Psychometrician, at the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson in Hadley, Massachusetts. As mentors Heather and Tracey designed an internship comprised of three major events: (1) drafting a technical manual, (2) researching contact modes, and (3) assisting at a national benchmark-setting conference.

The general public was the intended audience for the technical manual. Wording needed to be precise and non-technical while describing topics like equating and reported statistics. Many of the technical staff in Hadley kindly discussed test construction and score validation with me, offering me insight into their fields. During this project, I gained a greater understanding of both the practice and the description of operational psychometrics.

Researching survey contact modes was directed by operational questions regarding content validation surveys. After attending meetings and reading relevant literature, I presented a one-page bulleted synopsis of literature highlights, addressing comments and concerns. On an abstract level, both the technical manual and the survey mode research required retaining meaning while summarizing.

At the St. Louis benchmark-setting conference, I saw the positive effects of a well-planned event. From all 50 states, roughly 700 educators converged on St. Louis to set benchmarks for the 31 tests of the National Evaluation Series (NES). Subject matter expert training was standardized, and there was a protocol for all confidential materials. In addition to planned standardized procedures, we were able to demonstrate appropriate protocol during an unexpected fire alarm. I enjoyed the responsibility of assisting at the conference, knowing that our process would become part of the validity evidence for the NES.

On a personal note, and as a baseball fan, I was thrilled about the St. Louis trip. There has been a new iteration of Busch Stadium since 2004, but on my birthday I got to stand in the air space of what I consider to be the most life-changing stadium of all time. In 2004, the Red Sox pulled off a complex coordinated effort. After they won, the Red Sox belonged to the set of teams that accomplished their goals on the largest stage. Red Sox fans could believe that years of suffering had finally paid off. In my summer of 2010, the same could be said of Pearson; I saw Pearson succeeding at a complex coordinated effort that also took considerable talent. After the conference, I saw that Pearson can accomplish goals on the largest scale, and I can believe that my years of school will also have been well-spent.

It was a special event in my life to be at Pearson this summer with Heather and Tracey. I was given responsibility to do exciting work that mattered. Now, in addition to an excellent graduate school experience, I have an empirically-borne confidence that I will enjoy my future in psychometrics.

Amy Semerjian
Psychometric Intern
Test, Measurement & Research Services

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