Teaching & Learning Tips

A collection of tips and tools designed to aid in transitioning instruction online.

Assessment Validity and Alignment

Aug 12, 2021

validity-alignment-02-blogAssessment validity refers to the extent that a test measures what it is supposed to measure. The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (2014) defines validity as the “degree to which evidence and theory support the interpretations of test scores for proposed uses of tests” (p. 11). This definition reminds us that validity is more than just about the attributes of the test; it is also about what we intend to do with the results. 

  • If we want to determine whether our students met the learning objectives of our course, we are considering content validity. There is evidence for content validity when test items are well-aligned with the subject matter and cognitive levels (Bloom’s Taxonomy) of our course objectives and learning activities.
  • We are considering criterion validity if we want to determine whether our students will do well on an external exam There is evidence for criterion validity when scores on both assessments are highly correlated. 
  • If we want to determine if our assessment is theoretically sound, we are considering construct validity. There is evidence for construct validity when test scores, which measure an unobservable construct, are highly correlated with other variables predicted by our theory.

Alignment is a critical component of assessment validity. We must also make this alignment explicitly known to our students to promote their motivation and learning strategies. After all, we cannot truly assess our students’ capabilities if their learning is inappropriately focused. Let’s take a closer look at ensuring that we are measuring what we intend to measure by lining up our assessments with our learning objectives and learning activities. 



American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education (Eds.). (2014). Standards for educational and psychological testing. American Educational Research Association. https://www.apa.org/science/programs/testing/standards