Saturday, November 06, 2010

Dr. Detterman's intelligence bytes: Testing standards

Another in the Dr. Detterman's Intelligence Bytes series

Testing has become a highly professional activity and carefully specified standards for tests and testing have been developed. The most widely used standard was developed jointly by the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education. These standards provide guidelines for the construction of tests, specify who should use them, what they should be used for, and how results should be interpreted. Within professions that use tests, test use is frequently regulated by professional associations. Improper use can be sanctioned by the association or licensing boards.

In addition to test standards, the use of tests is controlled by an increasing body of legal decisions specifying how tests may be used in hiring, educational decisions, and other applications including determining who should get the death penalty in the U.S.. There are also “fairness in testing” laws designed to protect the test taker. Increasingly, tests are used to make important decisions about people: if they will get into kindergarten, where they go to college, if they will be hired, etc. It is incumbent on those who use tests to appreciate the importance a test can have to an individual and to fully understand what a test can and cannot do. It is not difficult to give a test but correct interpretation of the meaning of the score requires substantial knowledge about tests.

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