Does an Argument-Based Approach to Validity Make a Difference?


  • Carol A. Chapelle is a Professor, Department of English, Iowa State University, 203 Ross Hall, Ames, IA 50011; Mary K. Enright is Research Director, Center for Validity Research, Educational Testing Service, Rosedale Road MS10-R, Princeton, NJ 08541. Joan Jamieson is a Professor, English Department, Northern Arizona University, Box 6032, Flagstaff, AZ 86011.


Drawing on experience between 2000 and 2007 in developing a validity argument for the high-stakes Test of English as a Foreign Language™ (TOEFL®), this paper evaluates the differences between the argument-based approach to validity as presented byKane (2006)and that described in the 1999 AERA/APA/NCME Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Based on an analysis of four points of comparison—framing the intended score interpretation, outlining the essential research, structuring research results into a validity argument, and challenging the validity argument—we conclude that an argument-based approach to validity introduces some new and useful concepts and practices.