School systems and private education companies collect vast amounts of assessment data, but most of these entities don’t have the tools to leverage that data effectively. Student test results can be interpreted many ways. Using them to judge teacher, curriculum, and institution effectiveness is challenging and not always intuitive. For example, can raw test scores answer such questions as:
It may be the answers to these and other tough questions can be found in the vast banks of information students and schools generate. Increasingly, districts and other entities are exploring what data analytics and Big Data can do for education.
Analytical educational assessment and evaluation is a relatively new discipline, which means that most graduate degree programs focused on the quantitative analysis of educational data are also fairly new. In fact, master’s degrees in measurement, evaluation, and statistics were once more commonly found in psychology departments, where test theory and experiment design courses were geared toward aspiring researchers.
With the growth of applied Big Data and analytics, every field—including education—has its researchers and its number-crunchers. If you have an analytical mind and a knack for finding patterns, and if you’d like to change how teachers teach and students learn for the better, getting a master’s degree in educational measurement, evaluation, and statistics is a good place to start. With this degree, you can use your skills to improve the field of education—no teaching license necessary.
In this article about whether getting a Master of Education in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics is worth it, we’ll cover:
This is not one of those tightly focused master’s degrees that prepares one type of student (e.g., teacher) to fill one type of role (e.g., teaching). There’s a lot you can do with an MEd in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics because you’ll have the knowledge and tools to:
These are skills that can be employed in many areas of education and in different positions in public school districts, colleges and universities, testing companies, and state and federal agencies. Your title might be:
What it comes down to is that there aren’t any one-size-fits-all jobs in the field of educational assessment. You may find you have to create your own niche. That said, there is a strong demand for education professionals with graduate training in research, measurement, and evaluation, and chances are that demand is only going to grow.
Most MEd in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics programs keep the prerequisites to a minimum. You will need to have a bachelor’s degree, though many colleges and universities don’t require students to have chosen a specific major in their undergrad years.
You’ll probably need to submit recent GRE scores along with your transcripts and letters of recommendation. Many schools also ask applicants to submit a résumé, as this degree is often targeted to professionals working within the fields of education or statistics. Some programs do allow applicants from other fields to enroll. Still, your chances of being accepted into any Master of Education program (regardless of concentration) will almost always be higher if you have a background in teaching or educational administration.
Education measurement, evaluation, and statistics is an interdisciplinary degree program. Many schools offer it through their school of education, with contributions from the department of psychology and the department of statistics.
This degree requires quite a bit of quantitative work. Expect the core curriculum in most of MEd programs to include some math classes. You’ll also study concepts from sociology, educational psychology, public health, data analytics, research, and possibly computer programming. All your courses will present these concepts within the context of educational administration, effective learning environments, program design, student progress evaluation, educational policy, and leadership.
Most, if not all, of the work you do will be focused on learning how to collect student and school data, develop standardized tests and assessment tools, and analyze student development and program progress. You’ll take classes like:
Most MEd in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics programs require students to complete 30 to 45 credits of similar core coursework. Some focus more on individual student assessment, while others focus more on institutional evaluation. As you look at the course requirements for different programs, keep your career goals in mind. If you’d like to design effective student assessments, look for a curriculum that includes classes in psychometrics and classical test theory. If you dream of working with institutions or assessing entire districts, look instead for programs that stress concepts central to Big Data.
Finding the best education measurement, evaluation, and statistics master’s programs can be a challenge because this is one of those confusing degrees that goes by a lot of different names. Depending on what school you attend, your degree might be called a/an:
Don’t judge any degree program based on naming conventions alone. All the above degrees require students to take the same types of classes and to show competency in the same areas in order to graduate. Don’t base your decision on prestige, either. While you probably can’t go wrong at a school with a famous name, there are plenty of highly-ranked MEd programs in evaluation and assessment at less notable institutions. The best master’s degree in educational measurement, evaluation, and statistics is the one with classes that interest you, a schedule you’re comfortable with, a price you can afford, and solid post-graduation job placement rates. You’ll find highly-rated programs at the schools below, but don’t limit your search to the colleges and universities recommended here.
That depends on your interests and your goals. If you’re a total numbers nerd and obsessed with finding meaning in the data that underlies all human systems, this MEd concentration may be just what you’re looking for in a graduate degree program. After graduation, you’ll do significant work. Assessment isn’t just about handing out grades to students or schools. The results of evaluations can impact decisions about placements, curriculum design, funding, and teacher advancement. This degree can put you in a position where your analytical mind will get a workout every day, and you’ll be able to shape education in a big way, year after year.
One downside of earning a Master of Education in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics is the public’s attitude toward standardized testing. It’s hardly universal, but opposition to the prominence of standardized tests in modern education is something you will regularly confront as a testing professional. People in your life may assume that you’re getting this degree because you believe in “teaching to the test” or blame you for the test anxiety that’s running rampant in student and teacher populations. You may find yourself repeatedly having to explain that measuring the effectiveness of teachers and schools is about more than just testing, or defending the value of testing and differentiating between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ tests.
On the upside, you will probably never get bored in the jobs you can do with this master’s degree. As psychometrician Catherine McClellan put it in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Quarterly newsletter, “If I don’t like one assessment method, I need to research what to do to develop a better one. It rarely ever gets routine.”
But if you’re not sure whether you want to stay in the classroom, get into curriculum design, or go into evaluation and assessment, it may not be worth it. You should look into other MEd concentrations before applying to any educational assessment and evaluation programs. There are so many specialization options open to Master of Education students, from Education Policy and Leadership to Mathematics Education to Special Education Leadership, that you’re bound to find one that really speaks to you.
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