Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date

April 2018

Publication Title

American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting




Assessment, Equity, Law/Legal


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Education Law | Other Education


We explore the uses and functions of ‘validity’ as a boundary marker between legal theory and psychometrics. Standardized testing regimes rely on experts to articulate the limits of validity. When challenged in courts, these limits become the subject of contestation, requiring practitioners to litigate the validity of validity. This process generates significant discontinuities, resulting from different conceptual relationships to the idea of validity. Through a qualitative textual analysis of specific case law and a quantitative examination of Lexis-Nexis database archives, we trace how legal reasoning elides new developments in psychometric research that would broaden and enrich judicial treatments while showing how current work in psychometrics can be translated into case law outcomes, to better expose bias and unfairness in testing.


Paper presented as part of the session: Controlling Students and Populations With the Law.This paper is also available in the AERA Online Paper Repository. Each presenter retains copyright on the full-text paper. Repository users should follow legal and ethical practices in their use of repository material; permission to reuse material must be sought from the presenter, who owns copyright. Users should be aware of the AERA Code of Ethics.