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Validity, Fairness and Equity in Learning and Assessment Center

The Validity, Fairness and Equity in Learning and Assessment Center aims to take a systematic, empirically based approach to investigating issues that affect inequality in:

  • educational outcomes, such as poverty, structural stigma and inequities in educational resources
  • educational assessment, such as accessibility, sociocultural variation, opportunity to learn and lack of engagement

Our Vision

Fair is fair for all. We believe everyone should have equal access to:

  • high-quality education
  • effective, culturally aware teachers
  • assessments that accurately measure their skills and knowledge

These resources should be available to all learners regardless of social or cultural background or individual differences. Research can lead to changes in assessment and test score use that will diminish educational inequity.

Strategic Objectives

  • enhance the focus on validity, fairness and equity in all research and operational activities at ETS and beyond
  • develop strategies for the use of assessment in reducing inequities
  • investigate the development of more socioculturally responsive and inclusive assessment practices
  • expand methodologies for fairness research in digital learning and assessment
  • develop new methodologies to assess score equity in the context of automatic item generation
  • research inequities in the teacher pipeline

Research Areas of Priority

Educational Outcomes

  • examining the relationship between educational outcomes and factors such as income disparity, race, gender and socio-economic background
  • working with the education community to develop strategies for improving learning for all

Assessment Fairness

  • investigating innovative approaches to promoting assessment fairness in the digital era
  • developing broader fairness methodologies that take complex digital context into account
  • evaluating appropriateness of technological tools and assessment methodologies for different populations.

Social and Cultural Context

  • examining the role of social and cultural context in learning and assessment performance
  • studying frameworks, such as the Universal Design for Learning, that incorporate individual differences while maintaining high standards
  • evaluating the role of social and emotional learning in creating equitable learning environments
  • exploring models that take context into account when interpreting assessment results

Teacher Preparation and Equity

  • investigating the teacher shortage in the United States, especially teachers of color
  • evaluating possible reasons for this shortage including lack of incentives, shrinking education budgets and excessive barriers to entry into the teaching profession
  • exploring past circumstances and possible solutions