In 2003, the Harvard Educational Review
published a controversial article by Roy Freedle that claimed bias against African American students in the SAT college admissions test. Freedle’s work stimulated national media attention and faced an onslaught of criticism from experts at the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the agency responsible for the development of the SAT. In this article, Maria Veronica Santelices and Mark Wilson take the debate one step further with new research exploring differential item functioning in the SAT. By replicating Freedle’s methodology with a more recent SAT dataset and by addressing some of the technical criticisms from ETS, Santelices and Wilson confirm that SAT items do function differently for the African American and White subgroups in the verbal test and argue that the testing industry has an obligation to study this phenomenon.
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Maria Veronica Santelices
is an assistant professor at the Department of Education at the Catholic University of Chile, where she conducts research in education, including measurement, evaluation, testing, and higher education policy. She is currently leading a three-year project designing and piloting new instruments to be used in the admissions process to higher education institutions in Chile. She is also participating in a funded three-year project on the expected and unexpected consequences of the National Teacher Evaluation System (NTES) at the teacher, school, and municipal levels. Santelices previously worked at the research and evaluation unit of the University of California Office of the President analyzing admission and outreach policies and at Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) at UC Berkeley as part of a team that evaluated child care providers retention incentive programs in California. She also worked with the Early Academic Outreach Program at UC Berkeley designing and conducting formative and summative evaluations of some of their academic programs.
is a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and founding editor of the journal Measurement: Interdisciplinary Research and Perspectives
. He recently gave the William Angoff Memorial Lecture (Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ) and the Samuel J. Messick Memorial Lecture (Learning Testing Research Colloquium, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia). His interests in measurement range from reforming the approach to measurement in education and, more broadly, across the social sciences, to innovations in mathematical and statistical modeling for measurement, and to the policy and practical issues involved in educational and psychological assessment. These interests are founded on the core practice of developing concrete assessments and assessment systems that focus on educational applications, but they also extend to broader areas, including psychological and health applications. Most recently Wilson has published Constructing Measures: An Item Response Modeling Approach
(2004), Explanatory Item Response Models: A Generalized Linear and Nonlinear Approach
(2004, with Paul De Boeck), Towards Coherence Between Classroom Assessment and Accountability
(2004), and the National Research Council Committee on Assessment of Science Achievement report Systems for State Science Assessment