In search of a standard
In recent years, the nations of the world have agreed on the importance of measuring educational performance. In the past decade, assessment as a professional discipline has evolved significantly in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Four factors demonstrate this evolution: the creation of professional assessment organizations; the greater dissemination of ideas and the use of professional assessments by state, private and philanthropic agencies; the increase in the number of publications related to assessment; and the growing number of short-term training programmes for graduates on assessment.
Due to this tendency, there has been a growing interest in Latin America to create spaces for professionals to share knowledge on measurement and assessment issues. As a result, the First Latin American Congress on Education Assessment and Measurement (COLMEE) was held in Santiago, Chile, on October 4th and 5th, 2012. The event was organized by the Universidad Católica de Chile's MIDE UC Measurement Centre and consisted of presentations by international specialists, training workshops and the presentation of 60 works by Latin American researchers from 12 countries: Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina and the Dominican Republic.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) invited people from different countries to attend the congress and present papers. One example was the participation of Guatemala which presented the research paper "Adaptation of the Rasch Model in Standard Tests in Guatemala". The objective is to improve the grading techniques currently in use. The presentation included a methodology and a grading system to improve or implement new techniques based on the experience of other countries.
I think that the main contribution of COLMEE was the exchange of methodologies, programmes, and measuring and assessing techniques in the workshops. Various technical discussions took place between specialists at the workshops, some along roads already travelled, others just starting off, but all of them concerned with the need to maintain standards of reliability and validity in the processes that are taking place.
At present, authorities require more information on education systems to make better decisions. People who work in measurement and assessment have to be aware of the impact of the information they provide. Spaces like COLMEE enrich experiences and methodologies in Latin America, providing an opportunity for professionals that are working to maintain the standards of quality education.
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