Fairness Review in Assessment

Authored by: Michael Zieky

Handbook of Test Development

Print publication date:  January  2006
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780805852646
eBook ISBN: 9780203874776
Adobe ISBN: 9781135283384


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Until the 1960s little attention was paid to fairness in assessment. From the 1960s onward, however, fairness has become a major concern in the design, development, and use of assessments. A major tool in making fair tests is a fairness review to find construct-irrelevant sources of difficulty that may interfere with validity for various groups of test takers. This chapter discusses six fairness review guidelines: (1) Treat people with respect; (2) Minimize the effects of construct-irrelevant knowledge or skills; (3) Avoid material that is unnecessarily controversial, inflammatory, offensive, or upsetting; (4) Use appropriate terminology to refer to people; (5) Avoid stereotypes; and (6) Represent diversity in depictions of people. In addition to completing fairness reviews, test developers should treat all test takers equally, provide accommodations for people with disabilities, obtain diverse input, use an empirical indicator of item fairness, obtain validation information, and help score recipients use the test results appropriately.

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