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Nonresponse in Declared Ethnicity and the Identification of Differentially Functioning Items DIF

Allen, Nancy L.; Wainer, Howard
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Differential Item Functioning (DIF), Ethnic Groups, Item Analysis, Mantel-Haenszel Technique, Omitted Responses, Student Characteristics, Test Bias, Testing Problems


The accuracy of procedures that are used to compare the performance of different groups of examinees on test items obviously depends upon the correct classification of members in each examinee group. The significance of this dependence is determined by the sensitivity of the statistical procedure and the proportion of examinees who are unidentified. Since the number of nonrespondents to questions of ethnicity is often of the same order of magnitude as the number of identified members of most minority groups, understanding the effect of nonresponse is crucial to evaluating the validity of a procedure which is used to study differential item functioning (DIF). In this study, we examined the effect of nonresponse to questions of ethnic identity on the measurement of DIF for SAT verbal items using a commonly used modern method, the Mantel-Haenszel procedure (Holland and Thayer, 1988). We found that efforts to obtain more complete ethnic identifications from the examinees would be rewarded with more accurate DIF analyses. (20pp.)

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