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Differential Item Functioning (DIF) for Males and Females on SAT-Verbal Reading Subscore Items; Follow-Up Study DIF SAT

Lawrence, Ida M.; Curley, W. Edward
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, Differential Item Functioning (DIF), Item Analysis, Reading Comprehension, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)


This study was conducted to attempt to verify findings from an earlier study by Lawrence, Curley, and McHale (1988) in which DIF was examined for females on Reading subscore items in four forms of SAT-Verbal. Specifically, the focus of this research was on verifying the technical science hypothesis as a contributing factor to DIF for females on science reading comprehension questions, and the true-science classification as a contributing factor to DIF for females on sentence completion items. Confirmatory evidence for the factors identified in the earlier study is not clear-cut in this study. For reading comprehension items, the presence of technical science material in a reading passage tends to make the corresponding items more difficult for females. However, some items associated with highly technical passages do not function differently for males and females. With respect to sentence completion items, there was partial support for the hypothesis that true-science items are more difficult for females. However, the limited number of items studied does not warrant statements about the differential functioning of sentence completion items. (41pp.)

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