Factors that influence assessment outcomes

Person with thought bubble

By Chris Huzinec, MS, and Anne-Marie Kimbell, PhD, MSEd

Assessment performance is rarely a straightforward process. While the tests being used have varying degrees of standardization and psychometric properties, the most effective are those that have robust reliability and validity. However, their results can be skewed by factors relating to the student, client, patient, or clinician — even the testing environment or testing process itself can affect the outcome.

Is the student being tested developmentally delayed? Do they have physical disabilities such as a visual impairment or hearing loss? Did they get enough sleep the night before? Have they eaten that day? Is there a language difference? Perhaps the tester’s physical or mental state is less than optimal, or they are unfamiliar with the testing materials.

Testing adults with fidelity can also be hampered by outside influences such as literacy, substance abuse, language, and many other factors.

Even when thorough assessment procedures are followed, conditions are present during the testing session that can affect performance, scores, and, as a consequence, test results. Being aware of these factors and their potential impact on the testing process is important to ensure maximum performance and accurate results.

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