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Test Makers' 'Fairness' Standards

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Following are the standards for test developers and users included in the new "Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education." The code, released this month, was developed by a joint committee representing major testing and professional organizations. Its signers thus far include: the American College Testing Program, American Guidance Services, the College Board, ctb/McGraw-Hill, dlm Teaching Resources, the Educational Testing Service, ncs Information Services, the Psychological Corporation, the Riverside Publishing Company, the Scholastic Testing Service, and Science Research Associates.


Developing/Selecting Appropriate Tests

Test developers should:

1. Define what each test measures and what the test should be used for. Describe the population(s) for which the test is appropriate.

2. Accurately represent the characteristics, usefulness, and limitations of tests for their intended purposes.

3. Explain relevant measurement concepts as necessary for clarity at the level of detail that is appropriate for the intended audience(s).

4. Describe the process of test development. Explain how the content and skills to be tested were selected.

5. Provide evidence that the test meets its intended purpose(s).

6. Provide either representative samples or complete copies of test questions, directions, answer sheets, manuals, and score reports to qualified users.

7. Indicate the nature of the evidence obtained concerning the appropriateness of each test for groups of different racial, ethnic, or linguistic backgrounds who are likely to be tested.

8. Identify and publish any specialized skills needed to administer each test and to interpret scores correctly.


Test users should:

1. First define the purpose for testing and the population to be tested. Then, select a test for that purpose and that population based on a thorough review of the available information.

2. Investigate potentially useful sources of information, in addition to test scores, to corroborate the information provided by tests.

3. Read the materials provided by test developers and avoid using tests for which unclear or incomplete information is provided.

4. Become familiar with how and when the test was developed and tried out.

5. Read independent evaluations of a test and of possible alternative measures. Look for evidence required to support the claims of test developers.

6. Examine specimen sets, disclosed tests or samples of questions, directions, answer sheets, manuals, and score reports before selecting a test.

7. Ascertain whether the test content and norm group(s) or comparison group(s) are appropriate for the test takers.

8. Select and use only those tests for which the skills needed to administer the test and interpret scores correctly are available.


Interpreting Scores

Test developers should:

9. Provide timely and easily understood score reports that describe test performance clearly and accurately. Also explain the meaning and limitations of reported scores.
0. Describe the population(s) represented by any norms or comparison group(s), the dates the data were gathered, and the process used to select the samples of test takers.
1. Warn users to avoid specific, reasonably anticipated misuses of test scores.
2. Provide information that will help users follow reasonable procedures for setting passing scores when it is appropriate to use such scores with the test.
3. Provide information that will help users gather evidence to show that the test is meeting its intended purpose(s).


Test users should:

9. Obtain information about the scale used for reporting scores, the characteristics of any norms or comparison group(s), and the limitations of the scores.
0. Interpret scores taking into account any major differences between the norms or comparison groups and the actual test takers. Also take into account any differences in test administration practices or familiarity with the specific questions in the test.
1. Avoid using tests for purposes not specifically recommended by the test developer unless evidence is obtained to support the intended use.
2. Explain how any passing scores were set and gather evidence to support the appropriateness of the scores.
3. Obtain evidence to help show that the test is meeting its intended purpose(s).


Striving for Fairness

Test developers should:

14. Review and revise test questions and related materials to avoid potentially insensitive content or language.
5. Investigate the performance of test takers of different races, gender, and ethnic backgrounds when samples of sufficient size are available. Enact procedures that help ensure that differences in performance are related primarily to the skills under assessment rather than to irrelevant factors.
6. When feasible, make appropriately modified forms of tests or administration procedures available for test takers with handicapping conditions. Warn test users of potential problems in using standard norms with modified tests or administration procedures that result in noncomparable scores.


Test users should:

14. Evaluate the procedures used by test developers to avoid potentially insensitive content or language.
5. Review the performance of test takers of different races, gender, and ethnic backgrounds when samples of sufficient size are available. Evaluate the extent to which performance differences may have been caused by inappropriate characteristics of the test.
6. When necessary and feasible, use appropriately modified forms of tests or administration procedures for test takers with handicapping conditions. Interpret standard norms with care in light of the modifications that were made.


Informing Test Takers

Test developers or test users should:

17. When a test is optional, provide test takers or their parents/guardians with information to help them judge whether the test should be taken, or if an available alternative to the test should be used.
8. Provide test takers the information they need to be familiar with the coverage of the test, the types of question formats, the directions, and appropriate test-taking strategies. Strive to make such information equally available to all test takers.
9. Provide test takers or their parents/guardians with information about rights test takers may have to obtain copies of tests and completed answer sheets, retake tests, have tests rescored, or cancel scores.
0. Tell test takers or their parents/guardians how long scores will be kept on file and indicate to whom and under what circumstances test scores will or will not be released.
1. Describe the procedures that test takers or their parents/guardians may use to register complaints and have problems resolved.

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