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Assessment Research

Our research team advances the field of educational measurement through innovative research in the following areas:

Developing Natural Language Processing Applications

Our researchers have significant experience in a branch of computer science and computational linguistics known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). This technology has many applications. In particular, we have used this research capability to develop automated scoring applications. One of these applications is the e-rater® automated scoring engine. Other automated scoring applications that we are developing include the c-rater engine, the m-rater engine and the SpeechRater service. For more information, see Automated Scoring and Natural Language Processing.

Reliably and Validly Measuring Personal Skills

Some of our research capabilities are dedicated to identifying and investigating areas that are not well represented in large-scale testing programs. Our teams responsible for foundational research on personal skills also look for valid and reliable methods of measuring them. An outcome of this research is the ETS® Personal Potential Index (ETS® PPI) — a measure of personal skills that is available to test takers who have registered for the GRE® revised General Test.

Research on Understanding and Enhancing Teaching

We are using our research capabilities to contribute to a new generation of assessments that can help support effective teaching at critical points throughout teachers' careers.

Understanding Teacher Effectiveness

Our researchers are working to develop and validate measures of teaching effectiveness. Our research capability in this area includes expertise in classroom observation, classroom assignments, measures of teaching knowledge and value-added methodologies. Our recent work in this area has included theoretical research, which ETS has published in the course of its participation in the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, and a number of significant empirical studies undertaken with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the WT Grant Foundation and the Spencer Foundation.

Integrating Assessment and Classroom Instruction

We are using our research capabilities to investigate questions such as these: In the United States, what must change about schools' approaches to assessment in order to better promote quality and equity? How can teachers use assessment more effectively? Is it possible to better align assessment with classroom instruction?

Developing and Improving Assessment of Adult Literacy

As society becomes more technologically advanced, adults are expected to use information in new and more complex ways and maintain and enhance their literacy skills through lifelong learning activities. Literacy is a foundational skill area in which we conduct extensive research. Our researchers have completed a number of studies and contributed to several internationally used frameworks designed to help understand the factors that contribute to literacy. We also actively conduct research into literacy in the United States. The ETS Philadelphia Applied Research Office carries out research activities with a particular focus on literacy. This office specializes in:

  • research, program development and analysis of literacy and language acquisition
  • assessment development for literacy and language learning
  • support and training of teachers, tutors and other research study participants
  • research on and assessment of personal skills and qualities

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