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Research Foundations and Public Policy

How do you chart the future of K–12 student assessment? At ETS, we help shape that future student assessment through research and innovation. With a tradition of unparalleled leadership, we are committed to bringing new opportunities to the changing world of K–12 education.


Highlights of recent research Initiatives and pilot programs demonstrate how we are preparing assessment and measurement systems for the future.

Reading for Understanding Initiative

A five-year effort sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, this program seeks to improve reading comprehension through intervention and assessment.

Learning Progressions

This research consists of frameworks for assessment that can help teachers better understand what students know and how to move them to the next competency level (Video).

The CBAL® Initiative

This long-term research and development project called Cognitively Based Assessments of, for and as Learning (CBAL®) is a comprehensively developed model for assessment at the K–12 level that measures teaching and learning. Learn more about the CBAL initiative.

The Road Ahead for State Assessment

This policy document examines the impact of the assessment consortia and the progress we have made in the past 15 years in K–12 student assessment. It also offers insight into emerging options since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Read the reporttitled "The Road Ahead for State Assessment" .

Game-based Assessments

ETS researchers explain how game mechanics and assessment design are integrated to measure more complex and contextualized student skills (Video).

Collaborative Problem-Solving

Our scientists are also investigating assessments that measure how students collaborate with others to solve complex tasks. See how developing collaborative assessments moves us toward better assessment of Next Generation Science Standards (Video).

Pioneering Insights to Improve Teaching and Learning

Our mission at ETS extends beyond creating better and more informative assessments for K–12 students. We help teachers, administrators and policymakers improve their decisions for students with a view of advancing quality and equity in education for all. We have a focused and sustained program of research that is intended to:

  • Close the achievement gap
    The achievement gap refers to differing levels of academic performance of students from a variety of racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. ETS is committed to closing the achievement gap through rigorous research that supports practical tools for real-life solutions.
  • Create access for students with disabilities
    All students deserve the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through high-quality tests that deliver meaningful results. Our research examines ways we can improve fairness and validity of assessments for students with disabilities.
  • Support English-language learners
    Our research scientists and assessment specialists work with educators, policymakers and other experts across the United States to develop ways to advance education for English learners in grades K–12. Our research includes measuring language proficiency, demonstrating content knowledge and identifying best practices for teaching English learners.