The primary purpose of The Center for Advanced Studies in Measurement and Assessment (CASMA) is to pursue research-based initiatives that lead to advancements in the methodology and practice of educational measurement and assessment. Inter-disciplinary measurement and assessment activities, as well as international activities, may be pursued when they relate to the primary mission. Advances in measurement and assessment support both the educational and research missions of the College of Education and the University.
The University of Iowa has a long tradition and international reputation in the field of educational measurement. It is intended that CASMA build upon and extend that reputation. The long-term vision for CASMA is that it be widely recognized as a premier interdisciplinary center that performs, promotes, fosters, and disseminates high quality research in measurement and assessment in education as well as other disciplines.
In an October 2001 memo, President Mary Sue Coleman requested the development of "a model to use the UI educational testing expertise to advance the effective use of testing nationally, and a model to grow the educational testing activities of the UI." In response to President Coleman's request, a small group of College of Education faculty suggested the creation of a Center for Advanced Studies in Measurement and Assessment (CASMA). CASMA was formally created in September 2002 and Dr. Robert L. Brennan, the Lindquist Chair in Measurement and Testing, was appointed its first Director.
Current staff include Professor Brennan, Dr. Won-Chan Lee (Associate Director), Jennifer Jones (Administrative Specialist), and graduate assistants. Other faculty and students in the College of Education are regularly or occasionally involved in various CASMA activities, particularly Professor Michael J. Kolen and his graduate students.
Among the most visible activities that CASMA undertakes are the following:
- CASMA staff are actively involved in numerous research activities that lead to books, book chapters, publications in referred journals, and research reports. For example, Dr. Brennan completed editing the fourth edition of Educational Measurement, which is widely regarded as the "bible" in the field of measurement. Also, the CASMA website contains over 30 CASMA Research Reports and Technical Notes.
- The CASMA website provides an extensive array of computer programs for equating, generalizability theory, and other psychometric procedures. This includes Equating Recipes which is a set of open-source ANSI C computer functions for performing almost every type of equating. Equating Recipes contains over 25,000 lines of code and has an associated 300 page manual.
- CASMA and ACT jointly sponsor a testing conference approximately every other year. The conference is held on the ACT campus. Conferences were held in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2010. Over the years, these conferences have been partially supported by numerous testing organizations including the College Board, CTB/McGraw-Hill, Educational Testing Service, Harcourt Assessment, Measured Progress, Pearson Evaluation Systems, Pearson Educational Measurement, Riverside Publishing Company, and Vantage Learning.
- CASMA staff periodically provide workshops on equating and workshops on generalizability theory at the annual meeting of NCME and sometimes other organizations, as well. In addition, in June 2008, 2009, and 2011 CASMA provided a week-long workshop on equating at its offices at the University of Iowa.
- CASMA various psychometric services to testing companies and other entities, primarily services in the areas of equating, scaling, linking, and generalizability theory. Some of these services involve long-term commitments over a number of years; other services are shorter and more modest.
- CASMA occasionally provides an environment for established measurement professionals to take sabbaticals.
- CASMA occasionally sponsors or co-sponsors post-doctoral fellowships.
CASMA is willing to participate in partnerships with faculty in the College of Education, with other units within the University, and/or with external organizations or companies. CASMA's role in such partnerships may range from periodic consultation to joint collaboration in large scale projects. Because measurement and assessment are an integral part of numerous projects in a variety of disciplines, such partnerships may play a significant role in CASMA's future.