The NES was developed by the most experienced company in standards-based teacher certification testing. Each of the NES content and pedagogy teacher certification tests was carefully developed using the rigorous process described here.
1. Establish Test Development Committees
Content Advisory Committees are established to recommend the content, wording, and specifications for the NES tests. An Equity Advisory Panel is formed to review testing materials for potential bias. The members of these committees are chosen from applications received from well-qualified educators and educator preparation faculty from across the country. Committees comprise individuals who reflect the racial, gender, ethnic, and regional diversity of the nation.
2. Define and Review Test Content
National standards documents from representative professional organizations and other highly regarded resources, such as the Council of Chief State School Officers: Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) standards, are used to develop draft test competencies (sets of test objectives that define eventual test content). The draft test competencies for each test field are reviewed and revised by the Equity Advisory Panel and the appropriate field-specific Content Advisory Committee.
3. Conduct the Content Validation Survey
Content validation surveys are conducted for all approved test competencies. A large sample of teachers, school administrators, and educator preparation faculty participate in surveys to rate the importance of each competency in each test field for performing the job of an entry-level teacher. Results from the content validation surveys are analyzed to ensure that all competencies measured by the assessments are important to that job.
4. Develop and Review Test Questions
Test questions matching the final test competencies for each test field are drafted. Each draft test question is developed to correspond to an approved element of the test competencies. This correspondence establishes the alignment of the test questions—through the test competencies—with approved standards.
5. Review Draft Test Questions for Bias and Content
The Equity Advisory Panel focuses its review on excluding from the test materials any language, content, or perspectives that might disadvantage a certification candidate because of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, age, or disability, or because of cultural, economic, or geographic background. The Equity Advisory Panel also focuses on including in the test materials content and perspectives that reflect the diversity of the national population. The Content Advisory Committees meet to review and revise the draft test questions primarily from a content perspective. Content Advisory Committees review the questions for accuracy and freedom from bias, and they ensure that questions are matched to competencies, align with national standards, and relate to the job of an entry-level teacher. The committee-approved test questions are then finalized.
6. Conduct Pilot Testing
Test questions are pilot tested at sites across the nation. The pilot-test data shows how the questions perform with potential certification candidates. Questions that do not perform acceptably on the pilot tests are either deleted or revised and re-examined by the Equity Advisory Panel and Content Advisory Committees.
7. Construct Preparation Materials
A preparation guide for each test field is prepared. Preparation materials include the test designs and competencies, sample questions, and other related materials for each assessment.
8. Conduct State-Specific Validation Activities
Test Validation and Passing Score Panels are established in each state that adopts the NES tests. Expert educators and educator preparation faculty from across the state participate in a structured process to make judgments regarding the validity of each test for use in their particular state. After each test is validated, the Passing Score Panel makes judgments regarding a recommended passing score for the state. Following these in-state test validation activities, passing score judgments are compiled and presented to the state, and the state sets its passing score for each test.