Your Assessment Experts

john olson, PhD

Dr. John Olson is a co-founder of ASG and serves as senior consultant. He has more than 30 years of experience providing technical assistance and support to state departments of education, the U.S. Department of Education, Ministries of Education in other countries, testing companies, researchers, and others. Dr. Olson serves as a technical advisor, researcher, and consultant on a variety of measurement and statistical issues for international, national, state, and local assessment programs, and has assisted many states with their RFPs and reviews of proposals.

In addition, he has helped states with their submissions to the USED for NCLB peer reviews and written technical reports for them that provide evidence on the quality of their assessment program.  His expertise in the areas of large-scale assessment, psychometrics and measurement issues, test design and development, program management and operations, and NCLB is of much value to states and other customers. 

From 2003 to 2006, Dr. Olson served as Vice President for Psychometrics and Research Services at Harcourt Assessment. In this role, he oversaw all psychometric analysis and test design architecture for state and district assessment programs, and directed research to improve applied practices in psychometrics. His responsibilities included maintaining strong ties to state departments of education; actively participating in international, national, state, and regional forums on large-scale assessment issues; and working closely with proposal developers and assessment architects to insure that bids addressed state-specified needs with innovative and cost-effective solutions. 

From 1998 to 2003, Dr. Olson was Director of Assessment for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), based in Washington, D.C., where he worked with state leaders on an assortment of educational assessment projects, including the development of assessment and accountability systems that addressed requirements of the ESEA. He directed the State Collaboratives on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) projects, which provided many valuable resources and much support to states, and the Annual Survey of State Student Assessment Programs, the most comprehensive study of state assessment systems in the country. 

Prior to that, Dr. Olson held a number of key positions at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). As Deputy Director of the Center for Education Assessment, he managed the Voluntary National Tests program and oversaw the operational work of all the testing subcontractors. He also directed projects to review content standards and develop assessment frameworks and test specifications for states. In addition, as an AIR Senior Research Scientist working with the Education Statistics Services Institute he directed a national project on appropriate approaches for the use of test accommodations with English language learners and students with disabilities in large-scale assessments, with a particular focus on state assessments and NAEP.

From 1985 to 1995, Dr. Olson held several increasingly important positions at Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, NJ, including Director of Operations, Director of State Services, and Director of Technical Assistance for NAEP. He also served as Project Director for the Puerto Rico Assessment of Educational Progress, the first ever Spanish-language version of the NAEP.

Over the past two decades, Dr. Olson has directed an impressive variety of research and development projects and has overseen the creation of a wide range of useful products and resources for assessment professionals, as well as playing a lead role in developing an extensive series of assessment and technical reports. He has published numerous articles on assessment programs, TIMSS, NAEP, and psychometric research, and is a sought-after conference speaker.