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Who’s on First? Gender Differences in Performance on the SAT Test on Critical Reading Items With Sports and Science Content SAT DIF

Chubbuck, Kay; Curley, W. Edward; King, Teresa C.
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Report Number:
ETS Research Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Differential Item Functioning (DIF), Mantel-Haenszel, Science, Gender Differences, Performance Evaluation, Critical Reading, Athletics, SAT, Test Validity, Test Fairness


Particularly in the context of a long passage, in which most information needed to answer an item is provided, very little material appears to be too “specialized.” From participants' statements during cognitive interviews, it seems that interest in and/or familiarity with a subject has little impact on performance—despite previous research to the contrary. On the basis of our observations, we recommend the following: (a) use more than one type of statistic to evaluate differential item functioning; (b) consider the amount of context provided with an item rather than just the particular content of an item; and (c) when possible, use data rather than assumptions about gender bias to make decisions about test content that may generate differential item functioning.

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