Robert Linn

Areas of Expertise
Accountability, Assessment, Equity-Minded Reform, Growth and Value-Added Modeling, Measurement, Standards-Based Reform, Test Development and Validation

Biography

Robert Linn is a distinguished professor emeritus of education in the research and evaluation methods program. Dr. Linn has published more than 250 journal articles and chapters in books dealing with a wide range of theoretical and applied issues in educational measurement. His research explores the uses and interpretations of educational assessments, with an emphasis on educational accountability systems. His work has investigated a variety of technical and policy issues in the uses of test data, including alternative designs for accountability systems and the impact of high-stakes testing on teaching and learning. He has received several awards for his contributions to the field, including the ETS Award for Distinguished Service to Measurement, the E.L Thorndike Award, the E.F. Lindquist Award, the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCNE) Career Award, and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Award for Distinguished Contributions to Educational Research.

Dr. Linn is a member of the National Academy of Education (NAEd) and a Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies. He has been an active member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for more than 40 years and served as vice president of the AERA Division of Measurement and Research Methodology, vice chair of the joint committee that developed the 1985 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, and as president of AERA. He is a past president of the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), past editor of the Journal of Educational Measurement and editor of the third edition of Educational Measurement, a handbook sponsored by NCME and the American Council on Education. He was chair of the National Research Council’s (NRC) Board on Testing and Assessment and served on the NRC’s Board of the Center for Education, and of the Advisory Committee for the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences. He served as chair of the NAEd Committee on Social Science Research Evidence on Racial Diversity in Schools, and as chair of Committee on Student Achievement and Student Learning for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Education:

PhD Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1965.
MA Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1964.
BA Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1961.

Research

My research interests are in the theory and practice of educational measurement. In recent years I have focused on performance-based measurement and policy issues in the use and interpretation of educational tests. My current research, supported by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement through the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, is closely aligned with those interests.

Design of Educational Accountability Systems
My current research, funded by the U.S Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, through the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST), is focused on comparative analyses of alternative educational accountability systems. The particular focus is on alternative models for using student assessment data in longitudinal, quasi-longitudinal, or successive cohort designs. Alternative summarizations of student test scores, e.g., the percent of students scoring above a designated cut score, index scores based on weighted summaries of the number of students scoring in various score regions, and effect-size statistics based on scale scores are being investigated.

Impact of Educational Accountability Systems
My research on the impact of educational assessment and accountability systems is also supported through CRESST. In this research I am investigating the generalizability of gains in student performance reported by states. Assessment and accountability systems are increasingly focused on gains in performance. My research as well as that of other researchers has shown that gains can be seriously inflated under high-stakes conditions and underscores the need for careful validation of gains. The tools for evaluating gains, however, are weak. The current effort builds upon recent psychometric work that has extended traditional validation methods to address current issues raised by developments in assessment.

Teaching

My teaching interests are in the areas of educational measurement and statistics. In the past few years I have taught seven different graduate courses; Intermediate Educational Statistics, Experimental Design, Item Response Theory, Generalizability Theory, Causal Modeling, Multivariate Analysis, and Test Theory and Applications. These courses are consistent with my teaching interests.

Service & Outreach

Selected Professional Service

  • President, American Educational Research Association (2002-03)
  • Member, Advisory Committee for the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Research Council (2001-present)
  • Member, Board of the Center for Education, National Research Council (2001-present)
  • Educational Researcher, Editorial Advisory Board (1998-2000)
  • Chairperson, Board on Testing and Assessment, National Academy of Sciences (1997-2000)
  • Vice Chairperson, Board on Testing and Assessment, National Academy of Sciences (1993-97)
  • Member of Study Group on Guidelines for Mathematics Assessment, Mathematical Sciences Education Board (1991-93)
  • Co-Chair, National Academy of Education Standing Panel of the Trial State Assessment Project (1989-97)
  • Member of National Academy of Sciences Committee on Military Enlistment Standards (1989-94)
  • Chairperson, Design and Analysis Committee for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (1987-89)
  • Member of the Board of Scientific Affairs of the American Psychological Association (1984-86)
  • Vice President, American Educational Research Association for the Division of Measurement and Research Methodology (1984-86)
  • Member of National Collegiate Athletic Association's Special Committee on Academic Research (1983-86)
  • President of the Division of Evaluation and Measurement of the American Psychological Association (1981-82)
  • President, National Council on Measurement in Education (1981-82)
  • Vice-Chairperson of the Joint Committee of the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association and the National Council on Measurement in Education to revise and develop Joint Technical Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (1980-85)
  • Member of American Psychological Association Committee of Psychological Tests and Assessment (1974-76; Chairperson, 1975)