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Testing Handicapped People--The Validity Issue

Willingham, Warren W.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Entrance Examinations, Disabilities, Test Bias, Test Takers, Test Validity, Testing Problems, Assessing People with Disabilities


Admissions testing programs provide modified tests and test procedures for handicapped individuals in order to reduce the likelihood that a sensory or physical disability may spuriously lower test scores. Regulations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require that the validity of such tests be demonstrated. The meaning of validity in this instance is examined in consideration of federal legislation, current test theory and practice, and unusual circumstances encountered in the testing of handicapped people. It is concluded that test validity for handicapped subgroups means primarily test fairness and the measure of test fairness is comparability. Five measures of comparability between test scores for handicapped and nonhandicapped examinees are distinguished. For considerations of equity as well as the inherent difficulty in establishing score comparability, it is important to give careful attention also to the comparability of the task presented by the assessment procedure. (32pp.)

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