Item Development at ETS

In order to create fair, valid and reliable assessments, it is important to use high-quality items. An assessment is only as good as each item on it.

ETS items are of high quality because they:

  • go through rigorous content and editorial reviews
  • are built for or aligned to state standards
  • are developed by ETS’s experienced staff of assessment specialists
  • contain accurate content that reflects current teaching practice
  • adhere to the principles of good item writing as defined by industry standards
  • measure a range of cognitive levels
  • vary in difficulty
  • reflect the ETS commitment to quality in assessment and item creation

ETS item creation includes:

  1. Writing Guidelines
    ETS staff follow a rigorous set of guidelines to ensure creation of high-quality assessment items that meet industry standards for the highest technical quality.
  2. Writers
    Because variety, creativity and diversity are essential to high-quality item development, ETS assessment specialists work with a pool of experienced item writers (most are current or former teachers), and all receive extensive training on the principles of good item writing.
  3. Internal Review
    ETS accepts items only if they meet our criteria for matching the objective or standard being measured; have excellent technical qualities (like balanced response options with no single conspicuous answer choice), and appropriate difficulty and cognitive levels.
  4. Fairness Guidelines
    All ETS assessment specialists who review items receive specific ETS Fairness Review certification, which means they are specially trained to recognize and eliminate the use of discriminatory language/content and bias in assessment items.
  5. Style Consistency, Grammar and Accuracy
    ETS maintains an expert editorial and proofreading team with significant test item review experience to ensure accuracy.

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Technology-enhanced Assessments

Technology-enhanced AssessmentsETS works closely with states and the consortia to bring technological innovations to K–12 assessment.


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

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