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Validity in Educational and Psychological Assessment

Validity in Educational and Psychological Assessment

April 2014 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Validity is the hallmark of quality for educational and psychological measurement. But what does quality mean in this context? And to what, exactly, does the concept of validity apply? These apparently innocuous questions parachute the unwary inquirer into a minefield of tricky ideas. This book guides you through this minefield, investigating how the concept of validity has evolved from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Communicating complicated concepts straightforwardly, the authors answer questions like:

  • What does 'validity' mean?
  • What does it mean to 'validate'?
  • How many different kinds of validity are there?
  • When does validation begin and end?
  • Is reliability a part of validity, or distinct from it?

This book will be of interest to anyone with a professional or academic interest in evaluating the quality of educational or psychological assessments, measurements and diagnoses.

Validity and Validation
The Genesis of Validity: Mid-1800s–1951
The Fragmentation of Validity: 1952–1974
The (Re)Unification of Validity: 1975–1999
The Deconstruction of Validity: 2000–2012
Twenty-first-century Evaluation

'Countless books have addressed validity, but this is the first volume to provide a comprehensive treatment of the evolution of validity theory in the last century and a framework for evaluating educational and psychological testing in the 21st century.'

Wayne J. Camara
Vice President, Research and Development, The College Board

'In this groundbreaking book, Newton and Shaw show how the "consensus" view of validity—that validity is not a property of tests, but of inferences made on the basis of the evidence they elicit—was at best rather shallow. Notably, the "consensus" view leaves unresolved important tensions between those who see validation as a never-ending process (e.g., Cronbach, Messick) and those who understand the needs of those who produce assessments to be able to say that they have undertaken necessary due diligence to attest to the quality of assessments (e.g., Ebel, Kane). As well as providing an excellent, scholarly review of the history of the idea of validity, Newton and Shaw show how a modified version of Messick's facet model of validity can produce a rigorously grounded, and yet practical, approach to assuring the quality of educational and psychological assessments. Every serious scholar of assessment should read this book.'

Dylan Wiliam
Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, Institute of Education, University of London

'At last - a scholarly and well-argued book that means validity, the key concept in any assessment, is no longer an essentially American debate. Its scope, logic and clarity will quickly make it the standard international text.'

Gordon Stobart
Emeritus Professor of Education, Institute of Education, University of London

'With concerns over the validity of educational and psychological tests and assessments growing, this book by Paul Newton and Stuart Shaw is a welcome, and much needed, contribution to the measurement literature.   Anyone concerned with the technical quality and value propositions surrounding large-scale testing and assessment ought to read this book.  Newton and Shaw take the reader through the history of “validity” as researchers across time and across disciplines use the term.  In doing so, they advance the debate by offering a unique and novel framework for assessing issues of test validity.  Newton and Shaw leave us with some new concepts—theoretical plausibility and practical viability—for judging the evidence in support of a test’s validity.   This book presents today’s and tomorrow’s perspectives on validity as the core idea in educational and psychological assessment.  It is a must read for those working in the broad field of psychometrics.'

Howard T. Everson
Professor and Director, Center for Advanced Study in Education, Graduate School & University Center, City University of New York

[This book] was enlightening in terms of helping me reflect on a range of issues around testing and validity. It provides a good way of thinking about these issues in a way that takes into account a range of views from different stakeholders about why a particular testing policy exists. The framework enables different agendas to be made explicit and tensions between different purposes of a particular policy laid bare. It provides a way of critically evaluating policy and making decisions about implementing testing and assessment policies. I wish I had read this book before writing a sub chapter called 'Why Assess?' - covering the same ground on issues of dyslexia assessment would have been easier using Newton and Shaw's revised framework...I would recommend the book to experienced practitioners who want to reconsider the validity of assessments that they undertake. It is perhaps useful for trainers as a book that enables trainee psychologists to consider the social context in which psychometric measures are used and to consider validity in terms which take them beyond the technical aspects of testing and assessment. It is also a useful book for policy makers to consider, especially around the social issues related to assessment and testing policy implementation. 

Dr Garry Squires, programme director for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology, University of Manchester
Assessment and Development Matters

An ideal text for post-graduate courses on educational or psychological assessment, and selections would also make strong contributions to reading lists for under-graduate courses. There is plenty in it for more seasoned scholars of assessment theory as well ... because the historical survey and analysis of the literature is so insightful

Michael Johnston
New Zealand Association for Research in Education

In an accessible, statistics-free treatment, Newton and Shaw first distinguish assessment validity from related concepts (such as research validity), before tracing its evolution through the primarily US-led assessment research tradition over the past century. As doctoral students we hope to tap into issues at the cutting edge of the field, and Newton and Shaw’s book enables this, providing the background and theory needed to contribute to contemporary assessment research.

Ricky Jeffrey
Educational Review

An excellent book which is well written and provides the reader with detailed and informed examples of the application from theory to practice.

Mr Justin Honey-Jones
Commercial Training and CPD, AoFA Qualifications
February 1, 2016

This is an excellent and thought provoking text regarding the topic of validity. It explores the topic through history to the current day, in a logical format.

The references to other works give the reader the opportunity to research further if they wish.

This is an essential book for one of the courses I am involved with and I will recommend it for others.

Ann Gravells

Ms Ann Gravells
Assessment Ne, Cambridge University
June 26, 2014

Paul E. Newton

Paul E. Newton is Professor of Educational Assessment at the Institute of Education, University of London. His research focuses primarily upon issues related to the evaluation of large-scale educational assessment systems, and he is particularly interested in theories of validity for educational and psychological measurement, past and present. He has published on a range of assessment topics, including validity, comparability, assessment purposes, national curriculum test reliability, and the public understanding of measurement inaccuracy. Having obtained a PhD in developmental psychology, Paul moved into educational assessment and has... More About Author

Stuart D. Shaw

Stuart D. Shaw is particularly interested in demonstrating how educational, vocational and second language English assessments meet the demands of validity, reliability and fairness. Stuart has a wide range of pub­lications in English second-language assessment and educational research journals. His assessment books include: Examining Writing: Research and practice in assessing second language writing (Shaw and Weir, 2007); The IELTS Writing Assessment Revision Project: Towards a revised rating scale (Shaw and Falvey, 2008); Validity in Educational and Psychological Assessment (Newton and Shaw, 2014); and Language Rich:... More About Author

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