The article illustrates and discusses aims, organization and activities of the Italian National Institute for the Evaluation of the Education System (Invalsi). In the first part of the article, the relations between the activities carried out by the Institute and the policies adopted in the field of evaluation at a national level are analyzed. The second part focuses on the national assessments carried out by the institute every year. Particularly, an analysis of the tests used in the assessment of reading comprehension and of the conceptual frameworks that oriented their drafting is developed, focusing mainly on the validity issue. Problems related to content validity were identified, as well as several ambiguities related to the aims of the assessments and the use of their results.
Keywords: Accountability, educational policies, evaluation systems, assessment, validity.