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Committed to Fairness and Equity in Testing

ETS is committed to ensuring that our tests and other products are of the highest quality and as free of bias as possible.

All of our products and services — including individual test questions, assessments, instructional materials and publications — are formally evaluated during development to help ensure that they:

  • are not offensive or controversial
  • do not reinforce stereotypical views of any group
  • are free of racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic and other forms of bias
  • are free of content believed to be inappropriate or derogatory toward any group

Formal Review Processes and Guidelines

The ETS Office of Professional Standards Compliance performs audits of all ETS tests to help ensure that they meet the exacting criteria of the ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness. These standards reflect our commitment to produce fair, valid and reliable tests.

The ETS fairness guidelines are set forth and detailed in eight publications:

  • A Validity Framework for the Use and Development of Exported Assessments
    Tests developed solely for domestic populations are increasingly being used by more diverse, international populations. This trend in the rise of assessment exportation necessitates ensuring a bias-free experience for international test takers. In keeping with its commitment to equity in testing, ETS examines potential challenges for multiple populations (international) and identifies best practices for them with respect to opportunity to learn, curricular knowledge, and social or cultural differences. In ensuring a high-quality testing experience, ETS provides guidelines for test development, adaptation and test utilization to ensure validity and fairness for the multiple populations to whom an assessment is exported.

  • Constructed-response Guidelines
    These guidelines are designed to assist staff in accumulating validity evidence for developing and scoring constructed-response and other performance assessments. They supplement the ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness by identifying standards that relate specifically to performance assessments and by offering guidance in interpreting and meeting those standards.

  • ETS Guidelines for Fair Tests and Communications
    The ETS Guidelines for Fair Tests and Communications identifies aspects of test questions that might hinder people in various groups from performing at optimal levels and helps enhance the overall effectiveness of communications. Fairness reviews are conducted by specially trained reviewers.

  • ETS International Principles for Fairness Review of Assessments
    The International Principles for Fairness Review of Assessments are designed to ensure that our tests and related products are fair and appropriate for the culture and country in which they are used.

  • Guidelines for the Assessment of English Language Learners
    Guidelines for the Assessment of English Language Learners was designed for test developers, testing program administrators, psychometricians and educational agencies. These guidelines were developed to ensure that assessments are fair and valid for English language learners. They focus on large-scale content area assessments administered in the United States to students in grades K–12. Many of these principles can also be applied to other populations and assessments.

  • Guidelines for the Assessment of English Language Learners — helping ensure fairness and validity in assessment (Flash)
    In this video, ETS experts discuss the rapidly growing population of English language learners in the United States, and the rationale behind the guidelines that have been created.

  • Guidelines for Best Test Development Practices to Ensure Validity and Fairness for International English Language Proficiency Assessments
    These guidelines focus on the recommended best practices for the development of English-language proficiency assessments taken by international test-taker populations. The diversity of the global English-learner population in terms of language-learning backgrounds, purposes and motivations for learning, and cultural background, among other factors, represents challenges to test developers. This publication recognizes these and other issues related to assessing international English learners and proposes guidelines for test development to ensure validity and fairness in the assessment process.

  • How ETS Works to Improve Test Accessibility
    How ETS Works to Improve Test Accessibility describes to various stakeholders the work done at ETS to enhance the accessibility of our assessments and related products. It provides practical guidance about how, given their constructs, assessments can be made as accessible as possible to most test takers, including those with disabilities who do not need alternate test formats (ATFs). The document also describes how questions and assessments can be made more amenable to adaptation as ATFs.

    Note: This file is also available as an accessible electronic document.

Every member of the ETS staff responsible for writing and reviewing test questions undergoes extensive training in our fairness review process. Our commitment to fairness helps distinguish ETS from other assessment companies.

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NAEP and ETSETS has assisted the NAEP program in introducing numerous psychometric and assessment design innovations over the years.

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