Principled Assessment Designs for Inquiry (PADI) | SRI International
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PADI: Evidence-Centered Design

Conventional tests often fail to measure what is most important in student learning. Since 2001, SRI has been measuring important knowledge, skills, and abilities in science.

By applying evidence-centered design through PADI's (Principled Assessment Designs for Inquiry) unique suite of tools, SRI has become a leader in the design and validation of innovative assessments of student learning. Two projects are under way.

  • The first, Application of Evidence-Centered Design to State Large-Scale Science Assessment, demonstrates PADI’s value in developing complex technology-based tasks for hard-to-assess science concepts in the context of Minnesota’s large-scale assessment system. This project is dedicated to expanding and developing assessment tools, examples, and writer training materials to support storyboard creation and item development.
  • The second, Principled Science Assessment Design for Students with Disabilities, explores whether assessments can be designed from the outset to be more accessible and valid for a wider range of students . The project uses the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach in combination with PADI. SRI has worked with several states to identify science content and skill areas of interest, and to demonstrate how the redesign or development of items using both PADI and UDL results in more valid assessments of students with disabilities.

The project's initial stages addressed whether existing state science assessments for students with and without high-incidence disabilities (learning disabilities and mild mental retardation) yield meaningful data. SRI then redesigned assessment items and conducted an empirical study to show the improvements in validity, relative to the initial items after applying PADI and UDL principles. In the final phase of the project, SRI will disseminate the results and develop research-based guidelines that can be used in large-scale assessment design to increase the validity of inferences from science assessment scores for all students. 

In addition to their contributions to large-scale science assessments, the PADI approaches and tools promise benefits for other topic areas, age ranges, and types of assessments.