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True measure

September 13, 2009


Michael Rodriguez.

Michael Rodriguez is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology in College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Photo: Patrick O'Leary

Michael Rodriguez invites his students to serve as 'psychometricians-in-training'

By Kristin Cleveland

Students don't generally gravitate to educational measurement and statistics unless it's their specialty area. Michael Rodriguez's courses, however, usually fill early and often have waiting lists. On the last day of class, students frequently give him a standing ovation.

Rodriguez's mission is to enhance school policies, programs, and outcomes by designing testing methods that are more accurate, efficient, and non-discriminatory. Much of his work focuses on assessments for students with disabilities or those who are disadvantaged, with the goal of generating data that can better inform decision-making for school personnel and families of the children they teach. He has worked with the St. Paul Public Schools, the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, USAID, and the Ministry of Education in Guatemala.

"I love teaching. I probably teach more than I should, but it is my way of making a real difference in the world, by preparing my students to improve educational outcomes for children and families. I teach to improve educational decision-making, the field of educational measurement, and education more broadly."

"He strives to help students and professionals learn the technical language and theory while showing their use and application in practical examples," says a colleague. In class, he does it with authentic learning activities, such as having students design an exam that will accurately measure what they've all learned.

Michael Rodriguez is a 2009 recipient of the Award for Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.

Rodriguez also invites students to serve as "psychometricians-in-training" in the research he does, and he's developed a group to give them a forum for practicing their professional conference presentations. "This venue afforded [us] an opportunity... to critically and constructively review proposed research—a vital characteristic of thriving research-intensive environments," says a student.

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