Adopting a Conceptual Validity Framework for Testing in Speech-Language Pathology
American journal of speech-language pathology
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Purpose Limited evidence-based guidelines for test selection continue to result in inconsistency in test use and interpretation in speech-language pathology. A major barrier is the lack of explicit and consistent adoption of a validity framework by our field. In this viewpoint, we argue that adopting the conceptual validity framework in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (American Educational Research Association et al., 2014) would support both the development of more meaningful and feasible clinical tests and more appropriate use and interpretation of tests in speech-language pathology. Method We describe and evaluate the (American Educational Research Association et al., 2014) validity framework and consider its relevance to speech-language pathology. We describe how the validity framework could be integrated into clinical practice and include examples of how it could be applied to support common clinical decisions. We evaluate the costs and benefits of adopting this framework, from the perspectives of speech-language pathologists, clients, and test developers. Results The validity framework clarifies complex validity issues by shifting the focus of validity from tests to the decisions speech-language pathologists make based on test results. By focusing on decisions, the framework requires critical evaluation of test use, rather than evaluating tests against sets of criteria. Adopting this framework has the potential for appreciable improvement in the way tests are used and valued across our profession. Conclusions Speech-language pathologists, test developers, and clients will benefit from improved evidence-based assessment practices. It is recommended that regulators, test developers, professional associations, universities, and researchers adopt the framework and endorse it as best practice moving forward. This viewpoint proposes a series of first steps toward supporting uptake of the framework into research and practice.