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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 19, 2005

Large-Scale Science Assessment Subject Of Coffman Lecture Oct. 6

When it comes to developing large-scale academic assessments, educators, parents and policymakers are often deeply divided over what areas to test and how to develop questions appropriate for students from a variety of backgrounds.

In science assessment, the issue is even more complex. Educators face increasing pressure to teach alternative views to theories about human evolution, the birth of the universe, global warming and other subjects. Not only does this pose challenges for teachers; it poses challenges to people who design tests intended to measure students' base knowledge about science.

Linda Crocker, professor emeritus in educational psychology at the University of Florida, will discuss these unique challenges in the context of the development of a new nationwide science assessment for the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) 2009 when the William E. Coffman Lecture Series resumes Oct. 6 on the University of Iowa campus.  

Crocker's lecture, "Developing Large-Scale Science Assessments Beneath Storm Clouds of Academic Controversy and Modern Culture Clashes," will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Jones Commons (Room N300) of the E.F. Lindquist Center, which houses the UI College of Education. A reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public.

Crocker received a B.S. in mathematics from Ohio University and Ph.D. in educational measurement from Michigan State University. She has taught courses in tests and measurement, statistics, test theory and large-scale assessment issues. 

Her research interests have been in item development, validation methods, performance assessment and examinee test-taking behavior. She is coauthor (with James Algina) of a graduate text, "Introduction to Classical and Modern Test Theory," and she has directed a number of funded research projects related to assessment of student learning and served as an associate dean of the University of Florida's College of Education.  

Crocker is a past president of the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), a former vice president of the American Educational Research Association-Division D, and former editor of the journal Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice. Currently she co-chairs the Technical Issues Subcomittee for the NAEP Science Assessment 2009 and provides consultation to several student statewide assessment programs.      

This Coffman Lecture marks the first after a two-year hiatus. The UI-based Iowa Measurement Research Foundation (IMRF) initiated the Coffman Lecture Series in fall 1995 and it continued as an annual event through fall 2002. For a variety of reasons, no lectures were scheduled for 2003 or 2004.

William E. Coffman served on the faculty of the UI College of Education's department of psychological and quantitative foundations of education from 1969 to 1981. During that time, he was director of the Iowa Testing Programs as well as the first E.F. Lindquist Professor of Educational Measurement. While at the UI, Coffman was recognized for his writings on the reliability and validity of essay examinations and on the appropriate use of test results. Coffman died Jan. 12, 1998.

For more information about the lecture, contact IMRF President Bob Forsyth at 319-335-5412, or by email at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,