Research that Seeks to Advance the State of Score Reporting

By Ida Lawrence

A book that was recently published by Routledge as part of an NCME series takes on a topic that often isn’t given enough attention. I’m thinking of the way in which we report scores on a test, whether the score report is directed to a student who has taken the test, the student’s family, or the decision makers who will use the test results when they decide to accept or reject an application.

The book—Score Reporting Research and Applications—was edited by my ETS R&D colleague Diego Zapata-Rivera and features 25 experts in the field, many of whom are members of ETS R&D.


The book explores score reporting from two perspectives, one theoretical and one practical. The first part of the book covers foundational work on score reporting, including validity, design principles, and research on how to present test results to different audiences. The second part contains five chapters covering a wide area of practical applications of score reporting, including score reports for particular kinds of tests, the application of learning analytics, and how students interpret feedback they receive about their test results.

Altogether, here we have a book that reflects the growth of this field of research. Diego writes in his introduction that score reporting research  “is no longer limited to investigating the psychometric properties of scores and subscores but instead its scope has been broadened to include aspects such as: designing and evaluating of score reports taking into account the needs and other characteristics of particular audiences; exploring appropriate use of assessment information; investigating how particular graphical representations are understood by score report users; designing support materials to facilitate understanding and appropriate use of score report information; designing and evaluating interactive report systems; and foundational research on the cognitive affordances of particular graphical representations.”

When not made relevant to users, data are a lifeless organization of numbers. Clear communication of relevant assessment results provides users with opportunities to take informed action in their individual worlds. Test publishers owe it to individuals, educators and institutions to continue to keep their interests at the center of focus. This book reflects a commitment to those interests.