Test use is an international enterprise. Tests are used widely in education, industry, government—including the military—and in other institutions to assist in decision making. The International Test Commission (ITC) was established in 1976 to address three test-related issues at an international level: test purchase by unauthorized persons, the questionable quality of some tests, and the unethical use of tests. The ITC’s primary mission is to promote an exchange of information on test development and use to improve test-related practices. The ITC works to promote this goal in various ways. First, the ITC maintains a Web site and publishes a quarterly newsletter, Testing International, and a scholarly journal, the International Journal of Testing. The ITC also promoted the exchange of information through five international conferences to address issues important to test development and use internationally. These include conferences at Oxford University on test use with children and youth; at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, on test adaptation guidelines; in Winchester, England on computer based testing and the Internet; in Williamsburg, Virginia on testing and equity; and in Brussels on psychological and educational test adaptations.
Developing International Guidelines
Although test use is universal, test development is not. Most countries do not develop standardized tests for internal use; rather, they use tests developed in other countries. These tests typically are translated into the local language and often have unsuitable reliability, validity, and norms for subjects in the countries into which they have been imported. Therefore, under the leadership of Ronald Hambleton, the ITC developed guidelines for test adaptations. The term test adaptations refers to a process of altering a test originally designed for use with people who live in one culture (e.g., England) in ways that make the test appropriate for use with those who live in another culture (e.g., Hungary). The ultimate goal is to have the two tests measure the same trait in a fair, equitable, and equivalent fashion.
The ITC has also developed guidelines to encouraging best practice in psychological and educational testing. The goal is to provide a common international framework from which specific local standards, codes of practice, qualifications, and user registration criteria can be developed to reflect local needs.
Finally, Internet-delivered computer-based testing is increasing. This development warrants standards for test administration, security of tests and test results, and control of the testing process. Therefore, the ITC has established international guidelines that highlight good practice issues in computer-based testing and testing delivered over the Internet.
- Bartram, D. (2001). The development of international guidelines on test use: The International Test Commission project. International Journal of Testing, 1, 33-54.
- Hambleton, R., Merenda, P., & Spielberger, C. (Eds.). (2005). Adapting educational and psychological tests for cross-cultural assessment. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
- Oakland, T. (1995). Test use with children and youth internationally: Current status and future directions. In T. Oakland & R. Hambleton (Eds.), International perspectives on academic assessment. Boston: Kluwer Academic.
- Oakland, T., Poortinga, Y. H., Schlegel, J., & Hambleton, R. K. (2001). International Test Commission: Its history, current status, and future directions. International Journal of Testing, 1, 3-32.