The Second Century of Ability Testing: Some Predictions and Speculations
Dazzling changes in many areas, such as technology and communications, marked the 20th century—the first century of ability testing. Predictions about the second century of testing seem difficult in such a context. Yet, looking back to the turn of the last century, Kirkpatrick (1900) in his APA presidential address presented fundamental desiderata for ability testing (normative age standards, emphasis on culture-general tasks, simultaneous measurement of many persons, and adult ability measurement) that, in fact, guides major testing research even today. An overview of the last century shows that most fundamental principles in psychometrics and testing were available by 1930. With a few notable exceptions, the remainder of the last century of testing was devoted to applying or refining these principles. I predict that the same pattern will occur in this century of testing. Further developments in model-based measurement and cognitive psychology principles in testing, intermingled with technology, will guide ability testing throughout the next century. These changes, which I will elaborate in detail, include fundamental changes in test development procedures, the nature of the measuring tasks, aspects of ability that are measured, and types of interpretations given to ability.