21st Annual Illinois Community College Assessment Fair

21st Annual Illinois Community College Assessment Fair

Assessment: Just and Fair

Date: Friday, February 24, 2017
8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Prairie State College, Conference Center

Keynote Speaker: Norbert Elliot

Presentation Title:  “Ethical Theory, Writing Performance, and Assessment of Student Learning: Foundational Principles”


Fairness is the first virtue and first principle of assessment. In his keynote address, Dr. Norbert Elliot will discuss the implications of advancing fairness, drawn from a three-year study of ePortfolio-based postsecondary writing assessment.

In a four-part talk, Dr. Elliot will sketch the origin and development of contemporary educational measurement to ground our discussion, and will pay special attention to sources of evidence associated with validity, reliability, and fairness and present projections of student and voter diversity. Then, he will turn to a current program of research advancing fairness as the most important evidential category. In this new measurement theory, fairness is defined as the identification of opportunity structures created through maximum construct representation under conditions of constraint; as such, constraint of the construct to be measured is to be tolerated only to the extent to which benefits are realized for the least advantaged. Dr. Elliot will demonstrate quantitative applications of the theory, and will discuss the implications of advancing fairness as the first virtue and first principle of assessment. These implications for next generation assessment include the following: attention to sample size; constructing new design standards; qualification of replication issues; dedication to reporting transparency; and the advantages of a fairness-first model of measurement.


Norbert Elliot is Research Professor at the University of South Florida and Emeritus Professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology. As part of a team of scholars including Mya Poe, Asao Inoue, Diane-Kelly Riley, and Jessica Nastal-Dema, they are working on evidence related to equity, access, and fairness in writing assessment.

His research is presently funded by NSF Award 1544239 (“Collaborative Research: The Role of Instructor and Peer Feedback in Improving the Cognitive, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal Competencies of Student Writers in STEM Courses”) at the University of South Florida; and IES R305A160115 (“Exploring Writing Achievement and Its Role in Success at 4-Year Postsecondary Institutions”) at the Educational Testing Service.

He is presently on the editorial boards of Assessing Writing, IEEE Transactions in Professional Communication, Research in the Teaching of English, and WPA: Journal of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. With Edward M. White and Irvin Peckham, he is author, most recently, of Very Like a Whale: The Assessment of Writing Programs (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2015).