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Fairness Guidelines

Goals of Fairness Review

ETS is committed to producing tests and other products that acknowledge the multicultural nature of society and treat its diverse populations with respect. Further, ETS is committed to ensuring that test takers and others who make up our increasingly diverse customer base enjoy equal access to our products. To meet these goals, ETS uses sensitivity reviews and differential item functioning (DIF) analysis.

To learn more about how ETS makes its products and services accessible to individuals with disabilities, visit the ETS Office of Disability Policy website.

ETS mandates a process by which all its products — including individual test items, assessments, instructional materials, publications and other products — are evaluated for their sensitivity to and awareness of the contributions of various groups to the society of the United States. This sensitivity review also makes certain that ETS products do not use stereotyping and language, symbols, words or examples that are sexist, racist or otherwise offensive, inappropriate or negative toward any group.

Test questions are then subjected to DIF analysis.

The ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness instructs all ETS testing programs to develop their own fairness plans. A Model Fairness Plan based on the Fairness Chapter (Chapter 5) of the ETS Standards has been developed to help the ETS testing programs create their own plans.

Thus, fairness review ensures that ETS's products and services meet the fairness standards mandated by the ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness. Fairness review also promotes a general awareness of responsiveness to the:

  • cultural diversity of the United States
  • diversity of background, cultural traditions and viewpoints found in both U.S. and international test-taking populations
  • changing roles and attitudes toward groups in U.S. society
  • contributions of various groups (including ethnic and minority groups, individuals with disabilities and women) to the history and culture of the United States and the achievements within these groups
  • role of language in setting and changing attitudes toward various groups

Additionally, the ETS International Principles for Fairness Review of Assessments is an instructional guide for programs that develop tests primarily for use in a country other than the United States. ETS developed the document to ensure that these tests will be fair, in accordance with the ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness, and appropriate for the culture of the country in which the test will be used.