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Meaning and Values in Test Validation: The Science and Ethics of Assessment

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Ethics, Test Interpretation, Test Use, Test Validity


Since both score meaning and the value implications of scores as a basis for action are central issues in test validation, a unified view of validity is required that comprehends both the scientific and the ethical underpinnings of test interpretation and use. This unified concept of validity integrates considerations of content, criteria, and consequences into a construct framework for testing rational hypotheses about theoretically relevant relationships, including those of an applied as well as of a scientific nature. The essence of unified validity is that the appropriateness, meaningfulness, and usefulness of score-based inferences are inseparable and that the unifying force behind this integration is the trustworthiness of empirically grounded score interpretation, that is, construct validity. (32pp.)

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