A fish labeled 'Accurate Data' swimming in a sea labeled 'Context'.

Validity of Measures

Tip: Whenever possible, use measures that have been tested and validated with groups similar to the groups who will be given the measures.

Rationale: If the target populations were not considered in the development and testing of measures, the measures and the items included in them may not be valid. Personal familiarity with the context of a test item has been found to be tied to performance.1 For example, students in Montana are more likely to do better on a test item tied to skidding and sliding on the ice than are comparable students in Florida. Students in urban areas have very different intuitive views of what an elevator is than do students in rural farmlands (i.e., building elevator vs. grain elevator).

Tip: When working with people with disabilities, use measures that are accessible to them and that have been tested and validated with people with disabilities.

Rationale: Many measures are designed inadvertently for individuals who are able-bodied and are not robust for those with disabilities. If one's sight, hearing, or movement is impaired, one's knowledge and understanding of -- as well as familiarity with -- items incorporating certain experiences may be minimal.

1 Chipman, S. (1991). Content effects on word problem performance: A possible source of test bias? American Educational Research Journal, 28(4), 897-915. doi:10.3102/00028312028004897