Practical validation: organisational approaches to large-scale evaluation and continuous improvement

Practical validation: organisational approaches to large-scale evaluation and continuous improvement

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Practical validation: organisational approaches to large-scale evaluation and continuous improvement

Validity is fundamental to the development and administration of tests and a vital concern for test providers, yet validating a test’,s uses to the highest technical standards is an enormous and never-ending undertaking (Cronbach, 1971). The scale of the challenge is multiplied when a test provider offers hundreds of separate tests. This paper explores how providers of general qualifications can rise to this challenge, drawing on examples from international qualifications for 14-18-year-old learners.Resources for validation will always be limited so prioritisation is a necessity. Validators must choose between depth and breadth of validation: to comprehensively validate the uses of a few tests, or cover the uses of more tests in less depth. Alternatively, one aspect of validity - such as marking reliability - can be evaluated across many tests. Using validation as a driver of qualification improvement is explored, with an emphasis on maximising impact. Strategies proposed include aligning validation with qualification development and emphasising flexibility and attention to stakeholders’, needs. Finally, the outcomes for an ongoing validation programme are discussed. While validation will never be finished, since resources are finite and test uses require continual revalidation, a programme can address stakeholders’, concerns and drive continuous improvement of qualifications.Key words: validation, validity, evaluation

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