In today’s society, the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) cannot be overstated. While the focus on DE&I has primarily been directed towards workplaces and educational institutions, it is equally vital to apply these principles to the assessment realm. Assessments are a critical means of evaluating knowledge and skills, and they should be fair and unbiased for all individuals. In this article, we will explore how the principles of DE&I can play a crucial role in the fairness of assessments, transcending the traditional view of DE&I as a one-time consideration. We will delve into various stages of the assessment life cycle, highlighting key areas where DE&I initiatives can be integrated to create greater equity in test creation.
Subject Matter Expert Selection
The first step in developing a fair and inclusive test is the selection of subject matter experts (SMEs). It is essential to ensure that the SME panel represents diverse perspectives and backgrounds. By including individuals from different ethnicities, cultures, genders, and experiences, we can minimize the potential for unconscious bias and enhance the overall validity of the assessment. A diverse panel of SMEs brings a broad range of knowledge and perspectives to the table, leading to a more inclusive and comprehensive test development process.
Item Writing Guidelines
Item writing guidelines form the foundation of test content development. To promote equity and inclusion, these guidelines should explicitly address the need for unbiased and culturally sensitive language. Content-irrelevant language or cultural nuances can inadvertently disadvantage certain groups of test-takers. By providing clear instructions to item writers about using inclusive language and considering the diverse backgrounds of test-takers, we can mitigate potential biases and ensure fairness in assessment materials.
Item Review Processes
To identify and address any unintentional biases in test content, robust item review processes are necessary. In addition to standard reviews by content experts, including diverse focus groups can provide valuable insights. These focus groups should consist of individuals from various backgrounds who can critically evaluate the test content for potential bias. Their feedback can help identify any cultural or regional biases that may have inadvertently snuck into the assessment. By incorporating diverse perspectives into the item review process, we can strive for a more inclusive and equitable assessment.
Language or Localization Requirements
In an increasingly globalized world, language and localization play a significant role in assessment fairness. Recognizing the diversity of test-takers, it is crucial to consider language requirements and regional differences during test creation. This may include providing translations, where necessary, in a manner that ensures accuracy and cultural relevance. By addressing language and localization needs, assessments become more accessible to individuals from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, promoting greater equity.
Even after the assessment has been administered, the journey towards equity and inclusion does not end. Post-administration analyses allow for the review of test results through a DE&I lens. By disaggregating data and analyzing performance across different demographic groups, we may be able to identify potential disparities or biases that could have emerged during the assessment process. These insights help drive targeted interventions, such as focused training or content adjustments, to rectify any unintended inequities and continually improve assessment quality.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential considerations throughout the assessment life cycle. By integrating DE&I principles into subject matter expert selection, item writing guidelines, item review processes, language requirements, and post-administration analyses, we can create tests that are fair, unbiased, and inclusive. Such efforts ensure that assessments accurately evaluate the knowledge and skills of all test-takers, irrespective of their backgrounds. As we strive for a more equitable future, let us embrace the power of DE&I to enhance the quality and integrity of assessments, ultimately contributing to a more just and inclusive society.