The purpose of this study is to evaluate two methodological perspectives of test fairness using a national Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations. SSC is a suit of multi-subject national qualification tests at Grade 10 level in South Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Because it is a high-stakes test, the fairness of SSC tests is a major concern among public and educational policy planners. This study is a first attempt to investigate test fairness of the national SSC examination of Pakistan using two independent differential item functioning (DIF) and differential bundle functioning (DBF) procedures. The SSC was evaluated for possible gender bias using multiple-choice tests in three core subjects, namely, English, Mathematics, and Physics. The study was conducted in two phases using explanatory item response model (EIRM) and Simultaneous Item Bias Test (SIBTEST). In Phase 1, test items were studied for DIF, and items with severe DIF were flagged in each subject. In Phase 2, the item bundles were analyzed for DBF. Three items were detected with large DIF, one for each subject, and one item bundle was detected with a negligible DBF. Taken together, the results demonstrate that there is no major threat to the validity of the interpretation of examinees’ test scores on the SSC examination. The outcome from this study provided evidence for test fairness, which will enhance test development practices at the national examination authorities.
- differential bundle functioning
- differential item functioning
- explanatory item response modeling
- national examinations
- test fairness