The average teacher spends a third of their class time conducting assessments. Many undergraduate programs in education focus their curriculum on educational theory, classroom management, instructional design, and curriculum selection, almost to the exclusion of assessment. A master's in education assessment and measurement prepares educators in this important classroom skill.
Assessment is a critical component of education, one that offers many applications for teachers. Some graduates use this degree to advance their skills in the classroom, while others move into educational leadership roles. A few even leave formal educational settings and use their new knowledge to serve in a corporate or public agency. The following guide will answer many of the common questions students have about pursuing a master's in assessment and measurement.
Should I Get a Master's in Assessment and Measurement?
Dedicated classroom teachers, instructional coordinators, and principals can elevate their school's educational planning and results with a master's in education assessment. As schools and districts rely more heavily on data to direct decisions from the classroom to the district, professional educators need to understand how to analyze and apply data to the real world. In addition to the education sector, businesses and public agencies also need people skilled in assessment who can determine the effectiveness of a policy, activity, or program.
For recent bachelor's graduates, earning a master's in assessment on campus can be the best choice. Students attending on-campus often have more opportunities to develop close connections with professors, network with professional employers, and explore interesting and lucrative work opportunities. However, working teachers may prefer an online program that allows them to continue their employment while pursuing their degree.
By pursuing a master's in measurement and assessment, students learn to create and implement formative and summative assessments. These students study ways to design assessments that align with educational objectives and use an array of evaluation tools. Courses in this degree include classroom assessment, literacy evaluation, and statistics. Some programs include courses in big data management. Ultimately, teachers with master's degrees and the skills to adequately evaluate students and curriculum are more employable and earn higher salaries than those who only hold a bachelor's degree.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Assessment and Measurement?
Along with lesson planning, instruction, and classroom management, assessment and measurement play a vital role in teacher success. Effective teachers collect, read, and interpret data, then make decisions based on these interpretations. To manage the sheer volume of data that inundates schools and classrooms, teachers and principals need special training. Besides standardized tests, teachers need to use interim benchmarks, daily assessments, observations, and formal assessments to individualize interventions and enhance overall student performance.
- Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
Responsible for all operations of a school, K-12 school principals oversee the academic, operational, and human resource components of a school. In most states, these educational leaders must possess at least a master's degree, have many years of teaching experience, and be well-versed in educational theory and practice.
Median Annual Salary: $94,390
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers provide instruction to students with intellectual, physical, or mental disabilities. Educational diagnostics and analysis is a critical component of a special education teacher's job.
Median Annual Salary: $58,980
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Operations Research Analysts
Those graduates who choose not to work in education may find employment in operations research analysis. These professionals assist organizations with the investigation of complex issues and problem identification and solution development. Operations research analysts rely on the advanced mathematical and analytical methods taught in a master's program.
Median Annual Salary: $81,390
Projected Growth Rate: 27%
- High School Teachers
High school teachers design, implement, and evaluate lessons for classes at the secondary education level. They also counsel students, meet with parents, manage classrooms, sponsor after-school clubs, and complete extensive records on each student and class.
Median Annual Salary: $59,170
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Instructional Coordinators
Instructional coordinators work in K-12 schools, overseeing teaching standards, reviewing potential curricula, and working with principals to determine the best approach for their school. They assess the implementation and effectiveness of these approaches and train teachers in how to instruct, monitor, and assess students.
Median Annual Salary: $63,750
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
How to Choose a Master's Program in Assessment and Measurement
Students who pursue a master's in education assessment invest money in tuition, books, and commutes to campus. Such a large investment means it is important to select the right degree. Students should consider required prerequisites, whether they want to attend full or part time, whether the school will accept transfer credits from other universities, the courses and concentrations offered, and capstone requirements. Students should also look into opportunities for engagement in supervised learning experiences outside the classroom.
For many students, cost is a major deciding factor on which school to attend. When considering the total price of their education, applicants should review their budgets, decide what is affordable, and consider that number alongside the final price of the degrees they are considering. Those learners who opt for an online master's in education assessment could save money by living at home and working; however, they may also have to pay technology fees for each course. On-campus students, by contrast, may save money on commutes or even living expenses if the school is in an area where the cost of living is low. They may also have a leg-up on employment options since they can access networking opportunities through campus career fairs.
What's the Difference Between a Master's in Assessment and Measurement and an M.Ed. in Assessment and Measurement?
The M.Ed. (master in education) in assessment is usually designed for practicing educators who hold a teaching certificate. This degree is course-based and concludes with an appropriate practical capstone project. The master's in assessment, by contrast, is an academic degree designed to create theoreticians and researchers, culminating in an academic thesis. An M.Ed. usually includes more coursework instead of the research component. Students with a master's in assessment may use the degree to enter the corporate world instead of the classroom, assessing programs, marketing activities, and customer loyalty rather than student achievement. Thus, professionals with a master's in assessment may be able to earn more money than classroom teachers. Ultimately, the M.Ed. offers more growth opportunities for educators, while the master's in assessment is likely the right degree for those looking to work outside a formal educational setting.
Accreditation for Master's Programs in Assessment and Measurement
Accreditation plays a major role in determining the validity and utility of a master's in educational assessment. In the U.S., accreditation is a voluntary process schools undergo to demonstrate they meet universal standards of excellence as defined by an accrediting body. Regional associations provide institutional accreditation, and their approval covers an entire college or university, while programmatic accreditation is for specific departments.
Universities usually administer an M.Ed. in assessment under their schools of education. The major programmatic accrediting bodies for education schools include the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). While a university does not have to hold NCATE accreditation to be legitimate, it does indicate that the school is especially committed to quality education programs that train their students for their profession.
Master's in Assessment and Measurement Program Admissions
Graduate school admission requirements vary between institutions. Some universities quickly fill available slots in their master's in education assessment programs, but others may accept new students until the end of the drop/add period. Students usually consider several prospective programs and rank them according to factors such as cost, reputation, program length, financial aid, and philosophy. Typically, students seeking initial teacher certification should not apply to a master's in educational assessment, since these programs are designed to improve the skills of current teachers, not to equip new ones.
- Bachelor's Degree: Applicants need to hold a bachelor's degree in education, assessment and measurement, or another field to receive an admissions offer from a graduate school of education.
- Professional Experience: Real-world experience in the classroom may benefit students in a master's in education assessment program, but it is not a universal requirement.
- Minimum GPA: Most graduate schools require applicants to hold a minimum 2.5 GPA from their undergraduate studies, although high test scores may override a lower GPA.
- Application: Applications for graduate degree programs take longer than applications for a bachelor's, as many require personal statements or other essays.
- Transcripts: Applicants must submit official transcripts from all schools they have attended. Requesting transcripts from institutions usually requires applicants to pay a processing fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Students should be prepared to submit up to three letters of recommendation from former professors, colleagues, or educational administrators attesting to their ability to do graduate work.
- Test Scores: Some graduate programs in education require GRE or MAT test scores.
- Application Fee: Most application fees fall between $50 and $85. Some schools apply these fees to tuition costs once a student has enrolled.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Assessment and Measurement?
Many master's in educational assessment programs contain only a general concentration or are themselves a concentration within a broader educational degree. However, some schools offer subsets of educational measurement and assessment as stand-alone concentrations. The following are examples of concentrations that educational assessment students may choose in select programs.
|Educational Diagnostics||Focused on assessment for the classroom, this concentration helps students learn to assess and diagnose student learning needs through standardized tests. Students learn prevention and intervention strategies for struggling learners. Courses include foundations of educational research methodology, autism assessment, and classroom and behavior management strategies for exceptional learners.||Some career options include an educational diagnostician or a teacher.|
|Curriculum & Instruction||Classroom teachers in this concentration learn to create and execute engaging, effective classroom learning activities. The courses are designed to advance teachers' knowledge of the research, theories, latest trends, and educational methodologies in instruction. Courses include digital literacy and classroom intersection, video and technology leadership in the learning environment, and curriculum differentiation across cultures.||Options include instructional coordinator and teacher.|
|Educational Leadership||Focused on the unique elements of management and leadership in an educational context, this concentration equips students to use their evaluation and assessment skills to help lead elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational institutions. Courses include curriculum management for school executives, data-based decision making, and statistical data analysis for the classroom.||Students often pursue careers as instructional coordinators or curriculum directors.|
|Special Education||Special education provides education to students with physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities. Coursework includes special education assessment, early childhood disabilities, and assessing the adolescent learner in a special education context.||Students in this concentration often pursue careers as secondary teachers, elementary teachers, and special education teachers.|
|Educational Psychology||This field of study focuses on human development in relation to formal academic settings. Educational psychologists conduct research and analysis to equip schools to better handle student challenges. Coursework includes lifespan development, multicultural and ethical issues in psychology, and elements of psychoeducational intervention.||Career paths include employment as a test developer, educational program manager, curriculum developer, and instructional activities manager.|
Courses in a Master's in Assessment and Measurement Program
The curriculum for a master's in education assessment varies depending on institutions' faculties and missions. Still, all assessment and measurement programs draw coursework from statistics, data, instructional design, and educational theory. Most schools also require a capstone project. A sample curriculum is below.
- Principles and Theories of Evaluation
Students in this course look at critical issues, current debates, and key terminology in the field of educational assessment. Upon completing the course, students should be able to discuss program theory change, needs assessment, how to encapsulate program theory change in a logical framework, and explain the relationship between causal mechanisms and evaluation criteria.
- Data-Driven Decision Making
This course is an introduction to data analytics and its role in decision making for educational institutions. Students learn about types of data, analysis techniques and tools, and a review of programming languages. The course concludes with a data-driven, decision-making project using a simulated situation.
- Instructional Design Principles & Practices
Learners study the basic models of instructional design, including the ADDIE model, Merrill's principles of instruction, Gagne's nine events of instruction, and Bloom's taxonomy.
- Statistics I
Students learn the theory of applied statistics and study topics like how to conduct analyses with advanced procedures such as multivariate models, multiple regression, causal modeling, hierarchical linear modeling, and longitudinal analyses. Students should already understand concepts such as regression, probability, normal curve, statistical inference, and confidence intervals.
- Classroom Assessment
This course examines the formal and informal assessments teachers use when evaluating students as individuals or when assessing entire groups of learners. Students in this course learn to design assessments that are aligned with learning objectives related to student knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes. The course includes hands-on activities in assessment preparation.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Assessment and Measurement?
Full-time students earning a master's in educational assessment should plan to spend 12-24 months in school before graduating. Most graduate programs in measurement and assessment require 32-36 credits to finish, but some students can complete their programs earlier or later depending upon several factors, including the school they choose, the degree format, and the institution's transfer or life experience credit policy. Online programs are often accelerated.
How Much Is a Master's in Assessment and Measurement?
Students earning a master's in education assessment should budget between $9,000 and $36,000 for total tuition costs. Students who attend public universities in their state of residence should take advantage of in-state tuition discounts. Most schools require between 32 and 36 credits to graduate, and tuition can range as low as $280 per credit to above $1,000 a credit. Generally, public schools and online nonprofit schools charge lower tuition than private or for-profit universities.
Online students should account for hefty per-course technology fees. Digital learners often save money by living at home and working while going to school, but on-campus students may benefit from a lower cost-of-living index in their target school's city.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Assessment and Measurement Prepares For
- Superintendent Certification
School or district leadership certifications can vary state to state, but superintendents generally need teacher or principal licensure and must meet the required coursework and internship hours required by the state or private school association granting the certification.
- Principal Certification
Principals can receive certification for the elementary, middle, or high school levels depending upon state requirements. Typically, principals need to be licensed, experienced teachers who complete extensive graduate coursework that meets their state's requirements for an educational leadership post. Understanding measurement can help principals thrive in an assessment-driven educational environment.
- Elementary Education
The specific coursework needed to become a licensed elementary teacher is different in each state. Most teachers need at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education that should include an internship or student teaching component.
- Secondary Education
Requirements vary according to state guidelines, but most states require secondary educators to hold a bachelor's or master's in education and complete extensive coursework in their subject area.
- Education Technology
Requirements for this license vary according to state regulations, but in general, applicants must hold a teaching license, a relevant degree, and evidence of completing an internship in the field. Some states do not require educational technologists to hold a special license.
Resources for Graduate Assessment and Measurement Students
This academic journal publishes articles and book reviews on innovative validity-reliability studies, assessment strategies, diagnostic procedures, and critical analyses of assessment techniques.
This peer-reviewed, quarterly academic journal focuses on problems and solutions in measurement and evaluation throughout the world. Article archives are available online.
The UDL Center provides extensive research and resources on the universal learning design framework at all educational levels from preschool through higher education. Video, digital, and print resources are available.
The AERA offers publications, events, and programs in educational research, as well as educational and professional development options. Students can also apply for fellowships with AERA.
Professional Organizations in Assessment and Measurement
Professional organizations offer online jobs boards, networking opportunities, annual conferences, and access to digital libraries. Participating in a professional organization allows members to establish themselves as leaders, thinkers, and researchers in the field of assessment and measurement.
NCEO helps English learners and students with disabilities through collaboration, knowledge development, and technical assistance and dissemination. This organization is a federally funded initiative that provides resources to students, teachers, and educational assessment professionals.
The IAEA is a global organization dedicated to helping educational institutions improve assessment techniques. Members receive access to a scholarly journal and job postings.
The Center for Assessment works in higher education to promote student learning and retention through assessment and accountability practices. Members can attend the annual conference, access publications in the online library, and get involved in an active initiative.
The AEA's 7,300 members come from all 50 states and 80 foreign countries, each working to improve educational testing standards and practices. Membership benefits include in-person learning experiences, online networking, and discounts on publications.
The 1,600 members of NCME are actively involved in every area of educational testing and evaluation. The organization provides three quarterly publications, instructional materials, and networking opportunities through annual meetings.