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Elliott / October 20071 Understanding the Construct to be Assessed Stephen N. Elliott, PhD Learning Science Institute & Dept. of Special Education Vanderbilt.

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Presentation on theme: "Elliott / October 20071 Understanding the Construct to be Assessed Stephen N. Elliott, PhD Learning Science Institute & Dept. of Special Education Vanderbilt."— Presentation transcript:

1 Elliott / October Understanding the Construct to be Assessed Stephen N. Elliott, PhD Learning Science Institute & Dept. of Special Education Vanderbilt University

2 Elliott / October Construct: Dictionary Definition To form by assembling parts; build. To create by systematically arranging ideas or expressions. Something, especially a concept, that is synthesized or constructed from simple elements.

3 Elliott / October Basic Premises Understanding the construct to be assessed is critical to developing a plan to validate the resulting test score interpretation. Understanding what is meant by the term construct is important to facilitating communication with test score users and others interested in student achievement.

4 Elliott / October Constructs & Test Score Validity: Some History The term construct –logical or hypothetical – originated in Betrand Russells 1929 maxim that wherever possible, logical constructions are to be substituted for inferred entities. McCorquodale & Meehl (1948) distinguished hypothetical constructs (unobservable, inferred entities) from intervening variables (abstractions from observations). Since the 1954 Test Standards published by APA. Construct validity was defined in the Standards as the degree to which the individual possesses some hypothetical trait or quality [construct] presumed to be reflected in the test performance.

5 Elliott / October More History: Construct as Attribute The concept of validating a construct was more fully developed by Cronbach & Meehl (1955) who referred to a construct as an attribute. They went on to list construct validation procedures (a) criterion-group differences, (b) factor analysis, (c) item analysis, (d) experimental studies, and (e) studies of process. Through work of Cronbach with contributions from Messick (1980, 1989), the common view is one conception of validity referred to as construct validity. Thus, the validation of a test score can be taken to include every form of evidence that the score to some acceptable extent measures a specified attribute – quantifiable property of quality – of a respondent.

6 Elliott / October Nature of Attributes Observable and unobservable Achievements and aptitudes Levels of Inference: Abstractive to existential Thank goodness for test items that yield scores! Items help defined the content from which we make attributions. These attributions often take the form of a test score interpretation.

7 Elliott / October Test Score Interpretation The proposed interpretation refers to the construct or concepts the test is intended to measure. Examples of constructs are mathematics achievement, performance as a computer technician, …. To support test development, the proposed interpretation is elaborated by describing its scope and extent and by delineating the aspects of the construct that are to be represented. The detailed description provides a conceptual framework for the test, delineating the knowledge, skills, abilities, …to be assessed. (AERA, APA, & NCME, 1999, p. 9)

8 Elliott / October Our World: Student Achievement We are interested in understanding student achievement. That is, the knowledge and skills students posses at a given point in time in content domains of language arts, mathematics, and science. We gain insights into student achievement by observing the amount or quantity of knowledge and skills students posses in these defined content domains. This amount or quantity of the measured attribute takes the form of a test score. We attribute more knowledge or skills for samples of behavior or work where students demonstrate correct responses to a correspondingly larger number or more complex type of items. Our interpretations about student attributes are situated within broad academic content domains and framed by performance level descriptors.

9 Elliott / October Construct Logic Simplified Observed & Inferred Performances on Item/Task Test Score Interpretation & Abstracted Attribution Test Score

10 Elliott / October Unified View of Validity 1985 Test Standards and Messicks epic chapter united all types of validity under construct validity. As described by Messick, construct validity is …the unifying concept of validity that integrates content and criterion considerations into a common framework for testing rational hypotheses about theoretically relevant hypotheses. (1989)

11 Elliott / October Information Sources for the Constructs Assessed with AAs States academic content standards, States academic achievement standards, in particular, the Performance Level Descriptors for each content area, Validity & alignment studies as reported in Alternate Assessment Technical Manuals, and Reports to consumers of the assessment results.

12 Elliott / October Sample Content Framework

13 Elliott / October Sample Performance Level Descriptors

14 Elliott / October Sample Evidence Based Support for Construct Claims

15 Elliott / October Another Sample of Evidence to Support Construct Claims

16 Elliott / October More on Validity & Test Score Interpretation As we investigate the constructs measured by alternate assessments, we are confronted with a number of issues that affect the validity of the test score interpretation. For example: Teachers support and prompting, Tests with items or tasks that are non-academic, Assessments that sample a limited portion of the intended domain, and Item or task rubrics that score for more than achievement.

17 Elliott / October Construct Underrepresentation & Construct Irrelevant Variance

18 Elliott / October Understanding the construct assessed is foundational A validity argument provides an overall evaluation of the plausibility of the proposed interpretations and uses of test scores….To evaluate …a test score interpretation, it is necessary to be clear about what the interpretation claims. (Kane, 2002)

19 Elliott / October Thanks & more Key References AERA, APA, & NCME (1999). Standards for educational and psychological testing. Washington, DC: Authors. Kane, M. (2002). Validating high-stakes testing programs. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practices, 21 (1), McDonald, R.P. (1999). Test theory: A unified treatment. Mahwah, NJ: LEA. Messick, S. (1989). Meaning and values in test validation: The science and ethics of assessment. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18 (2), Contact Information


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