Revised Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing to be published in spring 2014

New version to include updates on fairness, accountability, technology and workplace issues.

By Marianne Ernesto

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) have collaborated on the joint development of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing since 1966. The latest version of the Standards has been completed and will be published in the spring of 2014.

The primary purpose of the Standards is to provide criteria for evaluating tests and testing practices. The Standards apply broadly to a wide range of standardized instruments and procedures that sample an individual’s behavior, such as tests, assessments, inventories and scales. The Standards apply not only to standardized multiple-choice tests but also to formal performance assessments (including tests comprised only of open-ended essays) and hands-on assessments or simulations. The Standards do not apply to unstandardized questionnaires (e.g., unstructured behavioral checklists or observational forms), teacher-made tests or subjective decision processes (e.g., a teacher evaluating classroom participation over the semester).  

There is no mechanism to enforce compliance with the Standards on the part of test developers or test users. They do not attempt to provide psychometric answers to policy or legal questions. However, the Standards have been referenced in federal law and cited in Supreme Court and other judicial decisions, lending additional authority to the document. For example, they have been cited in the Goals 2000: Educate America Act and in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. They have also been cited in several major court decisions involving employment testing, including a 1988 Supreme Court case (Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust).

Revision Process

There have been four revisions of the joint standards since they were first issued as separate technical recommendations for achievement tests and psychological tests by AERA and NCME in 1955 and by APA in 1954. The latest edition of the Standards was published in 1999.  

In 2005, the three sponsoring organizations (AERA, APA, NCME) appointed a management committee to oversee the administrative functions related to the next revision of the Standards. The members of this committee are Suzanne Lane (representing AERA), Wayne Camara (representing APA) and David Frisbie (representing NCME).   

In 2007, the management committee issued a general call for comments to the constituents of the sponsoring organizations as well as the public in order to identify those areas of the Standards that were most in need of revision or modification. Analysis of the comments that were received identified four key topic areas in need of attention: technology, accountability, access and workplace issues.  

Later that year, the management committee took the first steps in selecting individuals who would be responsible for the actual revision of the Standards by appointing Lauress Wise and Barbara Plake to serve as the co-chairs for the “Joint Committee for the Revision of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.” 

The remaining members of the joint committee were appointed in early 2008 (see photo). These members were chosen for their content expertise in the key topic areas and to represent a wide range of specialty areas within educational and psychological assessment.  

Members of the Joint Committee. (Top row, left to right): Brian Gong, Laurie Wise, Fritz Drasgow, Michael Kolen, Denny Way, Paul Sackett, Frank Worrell. (Bottom row, left to right): Antonio E. Puente, Laura Hamilton, Barbara Plake, Joan Herman, Linda Cook, Nancy Tippins, Jo-Ida Hansen, Michael Kane

Members of the Joint Committee. (Top row, left to right): Brian Gong, Laurie Wise, Fritz Drasgow, Michael Kolen, Denny Way, Paul Sackett, Frank Worrell. (Bottom row, left to right): Antonio E. Puente, Laura Hamilton, Barbara Plake, Joan Herman, Linda Cook, Nancy Tippins, Jo-Ida Hansen, Michael Kane. 

In January 2009, the process of revising the Standards began in earnest. For the next two years, the members of the joint committee met several times each year to produce a first draft of the revised Standards, which was posted for public comment in January 2011. After several more meetings in 2011 and early 2012, and after a comprehensive legal review, a second draft document was submitted to the governance groups of the sponsoring organizations for approval in fall 2012.

In 2013, after an abbreviated second legal review, a final draft of the revised Standards was submitted to the leadership of each of the sponsoring organizations for final approval. The leadership of AERA and NCME approved the revised Standards in the spring, and the members of the APA Council of Representatives approved the document in July.

Differences Between the 1999 Version and the New Version

In response to comments received at various stages of the revision process, the new version of the Standards includes updated material on such topics as educational accountability and technological advances in testing and a reworking of chapters concerning workplace testing and credentialing. 

The overall organization of the revised Standards is also different from that of the 1999 edition. The new version is separated into “Foundations,” “Operations” and "Testing Applications” sections. The “Foundations” section focuses on fundamental testing issues such as validity, reliability and fairness. The “Operations” section deals with operational testing issues such as test design and development, test administration, scoring and reporting and supporting documentation for tests. The “Testing Applications” section details specific applications in testing such as workplace testing and credentialing, educational testing and assessment, and the use of tests for program evaluation, policy studies and accountability.

While several chapters in the 1999 edition addressed fairness, the new edition both expands that material and integrates it into a single “foundations” chapter. The joint committee decided on this approach after concluding that the issue of fairness was so fundamental to testing practice that it should be considered as a foundation of testing along with validity and reliability.  

The new edition of the Standards is now set to undergo final copy-editing prior to publication by AERA in in the spring of 2014. For more information concerning the revised Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, please contact Marianne Ernesto.