The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (cresst) is a partnership of the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Stanford University, The rand Corporation, the University of Pittsburgh, the Educational Testing Service, and the University of California, Santa Barbara. This issue of "Evaluation Comment" shares the goals and perspectives that will shape CRESST's research program for the next 5 years. With a focus on the assessment of education quality, cresst expects to study: (1) assessment that leads to improvement in teaching and learning; (2) understanding and influencing assessment policy and large-scale practice; (3) improved technical knowledge about the quality of assessment; and (4) dissemination and outreach that successfully decreases the interval between research and practice. The conceptual model that will underlie the research program emphasizes societal impact as the ultimate goal and identifies four major domains: validity, fairness, credibility, and utility. This model will guide an ambitious agenda of research focusing on the areas of system coherence, adaptations and accommodations of assessments, the measurement of progress, and reporting. The issue also discusses the cresst conference scheduled for September 1996 and 1996 cresst resource papers and technical reports. (Contains 1 figure and 137 references.) (Sld).