Along with establishing tests under guidelines that ensure their validity and reliability, it is important to administer tests in a consistent manner across candidates to avoid diminishing their validity and reliability. In other words, the conditions under which a test is given should be standardized. Standardization of test administration can mean many things to different people and can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the key is making sure that all candidates are treated as consistently as possible. In my experience, I have seen jurisdictions err in both directions, with some being too lax and some being too strict. The key is to avoid changes in the way a test is administered that could actually negatively impact candidates’ ability to perform at their optimum.
In that regard, it is also important to distinguish the concept of standardizing the manner in which a test is administered from what candidates often term, “fairness.” It is not uncommon for test takers to confuse what they consider to be “fairness” with what test administrators know to be standardization since test takers are unfamiliar with what actually constitutes standardization. While the two concepts are related, they are not the same. Fairness is a concept that exists in an individual’s mind and can often include obscure factors that have nothing to do with standardization. It is important for test administrators to understand factors related to standardization to avoid getting dragged into debates about the “fairness” of a test. Continue reading