Scoring Fairness in China

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Mei, Yi
Test Fairness , Rater Judgment , Writing Assessment , China
Test fairness is a contested topic in the field of language testing in recent decades. Outside of North America, there is currently little research on scoring fairness in educational contexts. Taking fairness issues involved in scoring in the Chinese context as an exemplar, this study examines how the notion of fairness has evolved, and how test fairness, especially scoring fairness, is defined and empirically investigated in China. The analysis shows that the Chinese notion of fairness can be traced back roughly 2,500 years, to the time of Confucius. Since the era of imperial examinations, test fairness has remained a controversial topic regarding whether it is a purely educational issue or should be considered with its social implications (Yang & Gui, 2007). In China, the modern research on test fairness started from the late 1990s under the influence of Western measurement theories (Cao & Zhang, 1999). The findings also reveal three major sources of influence on how the Chinese academia views test fairness. Apart from the indigenous definition of test fairness, fairness theories in the field of language testing and education have exerted considerable influence on recent scholarship. However, research on scoring fairness is not well supported with empirical evidence, which is consistent with the status in the language testing field elsewhere. This study will have implications for endeavors involving localized research approaches to guiding scoring fairness research and practices in China as well as in other educational contexts.
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