Baker directs the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation and the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing at UCLA.
Dr. Eva Baker, Distinguished Professor in the divisions of Psychological Studies in Education and Social Research Methodology at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, has been honored with the Robert L. Linn Distinguished Address Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She will be recognized at AERA’s Annual Meeting, which will be held April 3-7, in Philadelphia. This spring, Baker will join the Linn Award selection committee as vice-chair; in April 2015, she will serve as the committee’s chair and deliver the Robert L. Linn Distinguished Address at the AERA Annual Meeting.
Baker, who has directed the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation (CSE) since 1975, is currently Co-Director of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST), UCLA, which is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Gates Foundation, and the Department of Defense, as well as State and local entities. She says she is especially happy about the Robert L. Linn Distinguished Address Linn Award because it was named for her former colleague, good friend, and former CRESST Co-Director from 1985 to 2000.
“It’s wonderful to be put in the same category with something that has his name on it,” says Baker of Linn. “He is a wonderfully smart and productive person.”
“That Dr. Eva Baker has been honored with the Robert L. Linn Distinguished Address Award from the American Educational Research Association reaffirms a CRESST and GSE&IS legacy of excellence and distinction,” says Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, dean, UCLA Ed and IS. “Professor Baker is a towering figure in our field. We are deeply honored and proud to have her at GSE&IS.”
The Robert L. Linn Distinguished Address Award is given yearly to a scholar whose work encompasses educational measurement and another significant area of research such as assessment policy, learning theory, or curriculum and instruction, and has resulted in a significantly positive impact on the field of educational measurement. The award recipient’s contributions may include theoretical or technical developments, conceptualizations of educational measurement issues that have enhanced public understanding, or innovations that improve the validity and effectiveness of educational assessments.
Baker’s research is focused on the integration of instruction and measurement, including assessment design and validity, and the use of technology for education and training of complex human performance. She is presently involved in the design of video games supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), as well as functional validity models for large scale testing systems. In addition, she and her colleagues are working on approaches to link assessments to teacher practice and to study the comparability and predictability of assessments to higher education and careers. Baker says that she and her CRESST colleagues strive to “generate new kinds of assessment models that allow the efficient and cost-sensitive development of assessment of content embedded cognition like team-work or resilience using technology or more traditional formats, such as pencil-and-paper.
“What we’ve been trying to figure out is a way of keeping quality very high and also finding a way to create performance assessments, to get [students] to demonstrate what they really know,” says Baker. “The bottom line is that we want the kinds of assessment or measures [for] teachers or trainers, to help improve learning of students and to also make assessments that are responsive to what teachers do.”
Dr. Baker is a member of the National Academy of Education. She was Chair of the Board on Testing and Assessment, National Research Council of The National Academies, from 2000 to 2005. Baker is a former president of AERA (2007), where she initiated the AERA Fellows program. At the same time, she reinvigorated the use of badges as symbols of academic or social accomplishment, now a large enterprise in the United States. As a young scholar, she was president of the Educational Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and is now Past President of the World Education Research Association (WERA), whose membership includes Research Association delegates from across the globe. Baker was co-chair of the committee to revise the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing in 1999.
A prolific writer and sough-after speaker, Baker was awarded the Lindquist Award by AERA last year, and has received numerous other awards by organizations, including the 2007 Henry Chauncey Award for Distinguished Service to Assessment and Educational Science, given by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). With a father, sibling, and children who are UCLA alumni, Dr. Baker says that she cannot think of a more exciting place to work.
“We want to encourage the users of assessments to do so wisely,” says Baker. “They should keep in mind that assessment should be useful and help students and teachers. They should enable with good instruction important accomplishments and a sense of self-efficacy. That cannot happen if tests do not attend deeply to fairness and equity. Good assessment should map to learning and be far more than a ‘score’ to be used in a bureaucratic mechanism.”
With CRESST Co-Director Li Cai, Baker is currently developing new validity models to assure quality and fairness of new assessments, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She was recently quoted in Education Week in an article on digital simulations and their use for assessment.
Photo by Reed Hutchinson