In January 2022, WestEd was thrilled to introduce Dr. Marianne Perie as the agency’s new Director of Assessment Research and Innovation (ARI). Dr. Perie comes to WestEd with extensive experience in educational assessment, including test design, psychometrics, and application. This includes designing and evaluating assessments administered at the international, state, and district levels.
Learn more about Dr. Perie’s vision for student assessment and for ARI’s role in developing innovative, culturally-responsive tools in this Q&A.
Q: What prompted your decision to come to WestEd ARI?
After 20 years of working for various testing agencies, consulting firms, and academic research centers, I decided to start my own consulting firm. Although I enjoyed the flexibility of working for myself, after three years, I missed having a team and thought partners. The opportunity at ARI provided me a chance to work with some real talent on interesting questions about assessment.
Q: How does your extensive expertise and experience guide your approach to ARI’s work?
I’ve designed, developed, administered, analyzed, and reported assessment results and worked closely with stakeholders, educators, and policymakers, so I’ve seen all parts of the sausage factory. That also means I know where we can make the biggest impact, which to me is in inclusive design and better communication of results. Assessments are worthless if they don’t lead to more opportunities for students and a better understanding of schools’ strengths and weaknesses.
Q: Which current ARI projects are you most excited to delve into?
The project that most interested me at first was the innovative science assessment for Massachusetts. I’d been allowed to peek under the hood as a technical advisor for Massachusetts, and I looked forward to understanding it better and seeing what I could contribute. After being here a couple of months, I’m also excited about the work done in early literacy, particularly in grades K-2. The team has built a fantastic product and I look forward to studying what we learn, improving it. and helping our youngest learners shine.
Q: What are the types of projects you are planning to bring to ARI?
A strong interest of mine is developing assessments that are more reflective of our diverse population. Authors of reading passages and context for math and science assessment should be inclusive of all student populations who are taking the assessment. We show the students we value them when they see themselves reflected in the work we produce. Moreover, research shows that familiarity leads to engagement and students who are engaged produce their best work. We need to do more to ensure we write assessments that reflect Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA), and Indigenous cultures.
Q: Outside of assessment, what other topics are you passionate about?
Animal rescue. I’ve been fostering puppies and dogs for local Kansas City area rescues since 2017. In that time, over 150 dogs and puppies have come through my home. I always make sure they leave happier and healthier than when they arrived and that their new homes will keep them safe.