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Fairness

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

In addition, 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.

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 fairness standards that reflect our commitment to produce fair, valid and reliable tests.

Below you can find the ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness and other publications that further describe the ETS fairness guidelines:

    • ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness

      The ETS Standards provide benchmarks of excellence and are used by ETS staff throughout the process of design, development and delivery to provide technically fair, valid, and reliable tests, research, and related products and services. Program auditors use the ETS Standards in a thorough internal audit process to evaluate our products and services according to these established benchmarks. Additionally, these standards are publicly available to help current and prospective clients, test takers, policymakers, score users, collaborating organizations and others understand the requirements for the quality and fairness of ETS products and services.

    • Download the ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness | File size: 557 KB
    • 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.

    • Download the Validly Framework for the Use and Development of Exported Assessments | File size: 1.48 MB
    • 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.

    • Download the Constructed-response Guidelines | File size: 1.01 MB
    • 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.

    • Download the ETS Guidelines for Fair Tests and Communications | File size: 660 KB
    • 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.

    • Download the Guidelines for the Assessment of English Language Learners | File size: 370 KB
    • 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.

    • Download the Fairness for International English Language Proficiency Assessments |File size: 467 KB
    • 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.

    • Download How ETS Works to Improve Test Accessibility | File size: 2.12 MB