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Decolonizing Validity

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Legacies of imperialist thought permeate understandings and uses of validity. This essay discusses the ways in which the concept of validity creates the colonial difference as it maintains social, epistemic, and linguistic hierarchies. Recent scholarship in writing assessment, particularly in this special issue, is considered in light of this critique as it offers ethical and methodological alternatives to help address issues of equity, representation, and fairness. Though attempts to revise the Standards to address issues of fairness have been made by the American Educational Research Association [AERA], American Psychological Association [APA], & National Council on Measurement in Education [NCME], these remain partial and incomplete. I propose a decolonial option to modernist notions of validity, one that asks scholars of assessment and test designers to dwell in the borders of the colonial difference that validity, as both hermeneutic and instrument, has helped to create and ensure. Such a decolonial approach would see validity evidence tools, not as a way to maintain, protect, conform to, confirm, and authorize the current systems of assessment and knowledge making, but rather as one way to better understand difference in and on its own terms.

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