Construct bias in the differential ability scales, second edition (DAS-II) : a comparison among African American, Asian, Hispanic, and White ethnic groups
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Intelligence testing has had a relatively long and controversial history, beginning with what is generally considered the first formal measure of intelligence, the Binet-Simon Scales (1916). Questions regarding possible cultural bias in these measures arose virtually simultaneously (e.g. Burt, 1921; Stern, 1914). Over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, an abundance of intelligence measures have been developed, with many of them having several revisions, but the issue of test bias remains an important one, both in the professional literature and in the popular press (Reynolds & Lowe, 2009). A current intelligence measure in use, the Differential Ability Scales, Second Edition (DAS-II, Elliott, 2007), is a test with growing popularity for assessment of children and youth, not only for its ease of use, but also for its appeal to young children and its nonverbal composite (among other things). Consequently, it is essential that there be empirical evidence supporting the use of the DAS-II as an appropriate measure of cognitive abilities for children of varying backgrounds. The test publishers conducted extensive research with a representative sample during test development in an effort to ensure that the measure met adequate reliability and validity criteria; however, the issue of test bias, particularly regarding cultural or racial/ethnic groups, was not explicitly addressed. This issue was raised and examined with the original DAS by Keith, Quirk, Schartzer, and Elliott (1999), but with the significant changes made from the first edition to the second, there is no guaranty that the evidence from the earlier would necessarily apply to the latter. The current study investigated whether the DAS-II demonstrates systematic construct bias toward children and youth of any of four ethnic groups: Black, Hispanic, Asian, and White. Multi-group confirmatory factor analysis using data from the DAS-II standardization sample was used to assess whether criteria for increasingly strict levels of invariance were met across groups. Outcomes of this research contribute to an existing body of literature on test bias, as well as provide evidence regarding cross-group construct validity in the DAS-II. Ultimately the results of this study can be used to evaluate the appropriateness of the DAS-II for clinical use with certain ethnic groups and will help to emphasize further the importance of exploring these issues with all standardized tests.