skip to main content skip to footer

The Interplay of Evidence and Consequences in the Validation of Performance Assessments

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Construct Validity, Performance Tests, Test Validity


Authentic and direct assessments of performances and products are conceptualized in terms of multiple distinctions having implications for validation. These include contrasts between performances and products, between assessment of performance per se and performance assessment of competence or other constructs, between structured and unstructured problems and response modes, between decomposed task skills and complex task performance, and between contextualized and decontextualized knowledge and skill. The concepts of "authenticity" and "directness" of assessment are analyzed as promissory validity claims that they offset, respectively, the two major threats to construct validity, namely, construct underrepresentation and construct-irrelevant variance. These distinctions are examined in the context of an overarching contrast between task-driven and construct-driven performance assessment. With respect to validation, the salient role of both positive and negative consequences is underscored as well as the need for evidence bearing on the various aspects of construct validity (content, substantive, structural, external, generalizability, and consequential). (42pp.)

Read More