The Chimera of Validity
by Eva L. Baker - 2013
Background/Context: Education policy over the past 40 years has focused on the importance of accountability in school improvement. Although much of the scholarly discourse around testing and assessment is technical and statistical, understanding of validity by a non-specialist audience is essential as long as test results drive our educational system and accountability.
Purpose: To portray the roles and functions of testing in U.S. educational contexts and the challenges faced in upholding validity principles in practice.
Research Design: This historical and analytical piece explores the evolution of the concept of validity, its treatment in scholarly discourse, along with challenges faced in practice, and projects future possibilities for educational assessments and their validity.
Conclusions: The challenge is to imagine a fantasy (like a chimera) where technology, globalization, changes in demography, societal expectations, and individual preferences could impact new forms of tests without losing evidence of their technical quality, including validity. A brief argument is made to consider the learning of skills rather than an exclusive focus on content as the core business of assessment.
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