The Concept of Validity

Revisions, New Directions and Applications

Edited by:
Robert W. Lissitz, University of Maryland

Published 2009

Validity is widely held to be the most important criterion for an assessment. Nevertheless, assessment professionals have disagreed about the meaning of validity almost from the introduction of the term as applied to testing about 100 years ago. Over the years, the best and brightest people in assessment have contributed their thinking to this problem and the fact that they have not agreed is testimony to the complexity and importance of validity. Even today, ways to define validity are being debated in the published literature in the assessment profession. How can such a fundamental concept be so controversial?

This book brings focus to diverse perspectives about validity. Its chapter authors were chosen because of their expertise and because they differ from each other in the ways they think about the validity construct. Its introduction and ten chapters bridge both the theoretical and the practical. Contributors include most prominent names in the field of validity and their perspectives are at once cogent and controversial. From these diverse and well-informed discussions, the reader will gain a deep understanding of the core issues in validity along with directions toward possible resolutions. The debate that exists among these authors is a rich one that will stimulate the reader’s own understanding and opinion.

Several chapters are oriented more practically. Ways to study validity are presented by professionals who blend current assessment practice with new suggestions for what sort of evidence to develop and how to generate the needed information. In addition they provide examples of some of the options on how to present the validity argument in the most effective ways.

The initial chapter by the Editor is an effort to orient the reader as well as providing an overview of the book. Bob Lissitz has provided a brief perspective on each of the subsequent chapters as well as presenting a series of questions regarding validation that the reader will want to try to answer for themselves, as he or she reads through this book.

This book’s topic is fundamental to assessment, its authors are distinguished, and its scope is broad. It deserves to become established as a fundamental reference on validity for years to come.

Introduction, Robert W. Lissitz. PART I: RELATIVELY MAINSTREAM. Packing and Unpacking Sources of Validity Evidence: History Repeats Itself Again, Stephen G. Sireci. Validating the Interpretations and Uses of Test Scores, Michael Kane. Validity as Contextualized and Pragmatic Explanation, and Its Implications for Validation Practice, Bruno D. Zumbo. Validity from the Perspective of Model-Based Reasoning, Robert J. Mislevy. PART II: RELATIVELY DIVERGENT. Invalidity in Validity, Joel Michell. The End of Construct Validity, Denny Borsboom, Angélique O. J. Cramer, Rogier A. Kievit, Annemarie Zand Scholten and Sanja Franic. PART III: APPLICATION OR IENTED. Validity in Action: State Assessment Validity Evidence for Compliance with NCLB, William D. Schafer, Joyce Wang and Vivian Wang. The Concept of Validity in the Context of NCLB, Robert L. Linn. Validity Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Conveying SAT Research Findings to the General Public, Krista Mattern, Jennifer Kobrin, Brian Patterson, Emily Shaw and Wayne Camara. Content Validity Considerations in Language Testing Contexts, Micheline Chalhoub-Deville.

"...fascinating, highly organized and readable, in-depth treatment of the concept.... This little book was meant to be provocative, and it is.... Each chapter is rich in ideas, information, and references." Joel P. Wiesen in Education Review (Read full review)

"This book needs to be read. Its chapters are well written, highly informative and enjoyable, but I missed one or two real-data validity studies that showed how a test is constructed to represent a particular attribute independent of practical test use. However, the book did for me what one may expect a good book to do: It stimulated me to critically think about the most complex and controversial topic in measurement." Klaas Sijtsma Tilburg University in PSYCHOMETRIKA