CMSEE has a new series, Scholar Spotlight, where we hope to provide a platform that enables students and researchers to learn about professionals in the field who contribute to research in the area of education measurement.
Meet our first interviewee, Dr. Javarro Russell, Psychometrician at National Board of Medical Examiners.
1. Briefly describe the process that brought you to work in the field of educational measurement. How did your educational path, particularly your undergraduate experience at Norfolk State (an HBCU) and graduate coursework at James Madison prepare you for this work? What interests you about the field?
I started out as a psychology major in undergrad. I went on to receive a master’s degree in Community/Clinical Psychology. From there I went on to start a small business in community counseling. My community counseling agency focused on the psychological, social, and educational needs of its clients. I noticed very quickly how the educational component was systematically overshadowed by all other needs. This was a general consequence of structural deficiencies in the social welfare system at the state and local government level. After two years of wrestling with “the system” I decided to leave mental health and focus solely on education. Around this same time the opportunity to obtain a Ph.D. in Assessment and Measurement presented itself. I knew that this degree would allow me to use my background in psychology and couple it with an in depth understanding of educational measurement.
What interests me about the field? I am on the side of education that not a lot of people know about. In education, there’s a big focus on teacher and student success. However, the process used for developing measures of success is rarely mentioned. If you ask most people what a psychometrician is, they’d have no idea! It’s nice to feel like you have insider information.
2. Tell us about your current role with the National Board of Medical Examiners and your responsibilities in this role?
I am the lead psychometrician of the Step 1 US Medical Licensing exam. I am responsible for the operational scoring of the exam. The goal of NBME is to ensure that we have accurate scoring 100% of the time and I lead those efforts for the Step 1 Boards. I also do some consulting with other medical boards regarding their exams.
3. Please tell our readers about your key projects?
Right now I am doing a lot of research on the transparency in testing information that is provided to users. We are looking at everything, from frequently asked questions to websites to score reports.
4. What have been some of the highlights thus far of your career?
Knowing that I have a lot of options is the biggest highlight. The degree that I’ve obtained makes people interested in my skillset. I am grateful for the opportunity to work at NBME and excited about being part of such a great team.
5. What advice would you give graduate students about entering into the professional industry? Are there any other pointers for prospective career professionals on life outside graduate school?
Network! I suggest spending 20% of your time meeting and greeting people. Also, latch on to a research topic and stick with it. Ride it all the way out. Do everything related to that topic imaginable. Leave no stone unturned!
You can view Dr. Russell’s profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=82976945&locale=en_US&trk=tyah