Construct-Irrelevant Variance in High-Stakes Testing


  • Thomas M. Haladyna,

    1. Professor of Educational Psychology, College of Teacher Education and Leadership, Arizona State University West, FAB 240 South, 4701 West Thunderbird Road, PO Box 37100, Phoenix, AZ 85069-7100; He specializes in developing and evaluating testing programs and in item development and validation.
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  • Steven M. Downing

    1. Associate Professor of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine, Department of Medical Education (MC 591), 808 S. Wood Street, Chicago, IL 60612; He specializes in test development and psychometric issues for achievement and credentialing examinations in the professions.
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There are many threats to validity in high-stakes achievement testing. One major threat is construct-irrelevant variance (CIV). This article defines CIV in the context of the contemporary, unitary view of validity and presents logical arguments, hypotheses, and documentation for a variety of CIV sources that commonly threaten interpretations of test scores. A more thorough study of CIV is recommended.