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Key Concepts in Accurate Measurement: Validity


Assessment-literate educators use assessment results as evidence to make inferences about student performance. Validity is the extent to which the inferences and actions made on the basis of assessment results are appropriate and backed by evidence (Messick 1989). It is the use and/or interpretation of assessment data that is key to the concept of validity. The validity of any assessment is the extent to which test scores accurately reflect the relevant knowledge and skills of test takers.


For the Smarter Balanced assessments, the relevant knowledge and skills are defined by the CCSS.  As discussed in Unit 2, the Smarter Balanced assessments are developed using the principles of Evidence-Centered Assessment Design, or ECD. Three basic elements of ECD are:

(1) stating the claims to be made about test takers,

(2) deciding what evidence is required to support the claims, and

(3) administering test items that provide the required evidence (Mislevy, Steinberg, & Almond 1999).

For additional information about ECD, download Evidence-Centered Assessment Design: Layers, Structures, and Terminology (Mislevy & Riconscente 2005).