Test Security is a Matter of Fairness

Written by Wayne Camara, Horace Mann Research Chair at ACT

The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, and NCME, 2014) define test security as both protection of test content from unauthorized release or use, as well as protection of the integrity of scores. Fairness is a foundational aspect of measurement and is directly related to the validity of test scores. While we often consider subgroup differences in discussions of fairness, it is just as critical to examine test security when the goal is to maintain basic fairness in the use and interpretation of test scores.

There are nearly 20 separate standards which reference test security or issues related to security in the Standards. Procedural fairness is the most salient example of where cheating or other malfeasant behaviors can threaten both the fairness of assessments and the validity of score interpretations. Standard 3.4 states “test takers should receive comparable treatment during the test administration and scoring process” (p.65). This standard reinforces the importance of standardization. Cheating or other issues related to security threaten the comparability of treatment and may provide an unfair advantage to one or more test takers, especially in a highly competitive environment…….

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Guest Contributer