The International Test Commission (ITC) is an “Association of national psychological associations, test commissions, publishers and other organizations committed to promoting effective testing and assessment policies and to the proper development, evaluation and uses of educational and psychological instruments.” (ITC Directory, 2001).
The ITC is one of the most fast-growing, active and impactful bodies among all international associations active in the domain of psychology and educational sciences. Its mission is worth pursuing, now more then ever since its founding, and has a significant impact on the way psychology in general and on psychological and educational assessment in particular is practiced in many countries all over the world. Its goals, its membership and its impact are truly international and it has proven to be a trendsetter in its chosen domain.
The goals of the ITC
The ITC’s primary goal is to facilitate the exchange of information among its members and to stimulate their cooperation on problems related to the construction, distribution, and use of psychological tests. The ITC promotes tests and testing, in all their forms, and is dedicated to advance good practices in the technical and ethical aspects of psychological assessment. In order to reach these goals, the ITC works through its administrative instruments, like its officers, Council, and different Committees and Task forces, as well as through its membership. The ITC publishes a Newsletter (Testing International), a Journal (International Journal of Testing), holds an international conference, contributes to the knowledge base in this field through books and online repositories (the ORTA project), publishes a set of Guidelines, has international research initiatives and has many other important initiatives.
The founding of the ITC
The founding of the ITC is a matter of debate. The ITC was officially incorporated by its then president Thomas Oakland (USA), in 1999. However, it was born in 1976, during the Congress of the International Union of Psychological Sciences (IUPsyS) when its constitution was provisionally approved. Even before this, the ITC had been functioning actively as a separate organizational entity, since 1974, under its first president Ype Poortinga (Netherlands).
The founding of the ITC occurred as a result of efforts made by Jean Cardinet (Switzerland), and were driven forward by an unrelenting vision and with the help of international institutions, such as the IUPsyS (International Union of Psychological Sciences) and the IAAP (International Association o Applied Psychology). These efforts began in the mid-‘60s and were fuelled by Jean Cardinet’s concern with the use of psychological tests by people who lack the sufficient training and experience in using these tools (Oakland et al., 2001).
The Leadership of the ITC
The leadership of the ITC, comprised of officers (President, Secretary and Treasurer) and Council members, is elected by all Full and Affiliate members. Since 2010, elections take place once every two years, instead of once every four years, as before. The reason for this change is the wish to expand the range of talents which contribute to the ITC's vision.
The Membership of the ITC
Initially, Jean Cardinet’s goal was to form an association of national test commissions. This initial goal, as well as the support received from the IUPsyS (which is also a union of national psychological associations) as the godfather of the ITC has left its mark on today’s membership categories.
Initially, membership in the ITC was rather restrictive and open to few organizations. In its first Constitution, the ITC accepted two membership categories: (a) full members, consisting of national test commissions recognized by the psychological association in that specific country, and (b) affiliate members, who were either international associations with an interest in assessment, or national associations from countries not full members of the ITC (Oakland et al., 2001). This view was amended several times: first in 1998, when affiliate membership was opened any and all organizations interested in testing (including test publishers or universities, who had not been accepted previously), and then in 2000, when the individual membership category was created.
Today, the ITC has three membership categories: (a) full, (b) affiliate and (c) individual. Only full and affiliate members have voting rights in the ITC General Assembly. Full membership in the ITC is restricted to one organization for each country. The full member is usually the national psychological association of that respective country, recognized by the IUPsyS. It is possible for that association to cede the right of membership to the national test commission or to another body. Affiliate membership is open to any organization, in any field connected to test and testing. Affiliate members can be, among others, research institutes, universities, psychological associations, test publishers, consulting companies etc. They can be active at a regional, national, or international level. Individual membership is open to anyone with an interest in the work of the ITC; individual members are, among others, psychologists, psychometricians, educators, consultants, policy-makers etc.
At this moment, the ITC has 20 full members, 65 affiliate members, and over 700 individual members. Almost all psychological societies from Europe and North America are members in the ITC, and affiliate membership is also dominated by these geographical areas, but individual membership is truly international, spanning 63 countries from all five continents.
Important projects of the ITC
The ITC Guidelines
One of the main objectives of the ITC has always been the development and promoting of standards of best practice in its area of expertise. Operating internationally, and not having the legal levers to enforce any rules of behavior at a national level, it has never been possible for the ITC to promote standards in testing, but the development and publishing of guidelines has fit nicely into its mission.
The ITC Guidelines are developed by task forces appointed by the ITC Council. These task forces are composed by experts in the subject area targeted by that specific guideline. Before final publishing, the work of any such task force goes through several rounds of review and public discussion, by the ITC membership and various other experts or interested parties.
At this point of time, the ITC has published 4 sets of guidelines. All these guidelines may be downloaded in English and various other languages from the ITC website. Two other sets of guidelines are under development at this point: A Guideline on Test Security, under the leadership of David Foster (USA) and a Guideline on Testing in Non-Native Languages, under the leadership of Alina von Davier (USA).
Possibly the most well-known of all these guidelines are The ITC Guidelines on Adapting Tests. These were developed with the objective to produce a detailed set of principles for adapting psychological and educational tests for use in various different linguistic and cultural contexts (Van de Vijver & Hambleton, 1996). A detailed description of these guidelines can be found in Hambleton (1994, 2005). The 22 points comprising this set of guidelines are grouped into 4 areas, and discuss pitfalls in any test adaptation process, among them especially the cultural context, the technicalities of instrument development and adaptation, the test administration process, and the documentation and interpretation of test scores. The ITC Guidelines on Adapting Tests are now under revision, under the leadership of Ron Hambleton (USA), with the objective to bring forth a second version in 2012.
A similarly well-known and well-used set of ITC Guidelines are The ITC Guidelines on Test Use. Their objective is to outline the behaviors of competent test users. A competent test user will use tests in an ethical and professional manner. These guidelines thus approach test use from two different directions, prescribing that a competent test user will (a) take responsibility for ethical test use and (b) follow good practice in the use of tests. They further set best practices in key points in both these areas of competence.
The ITC Guidelines on Computer-Based and Internet Delivered Testing were developed under the leadership of Dave Bartram (United Kingdom) and aim to produce a set of internationally developed principles that highlight good practice issues in computer-based (CBT) and Internet-delivered testing. These guidelines succeed in putting together, in one single document and under a single coherent structure, common themes that had been running through previous codes of practice, national standards, and empirical research papers. These guidelines have four parts, namely technological issues, quality issues, control issues and security/privacy issues, and all four are delineated both for the three interested categories of test developers, test publishers and test users.
The ITC Guidelines on Quality Control in Scoring, Test Analysis and Reporting of Test Scores are the newest addition to this select set of resources. They have been finalized in 2011 under the leadership of Avi Allalouf (Israel) and are now in the public debate phase, with the aim of publishing a final version in 2012. The aim of these guidelines has been to set principles and prescribe behaviors which should be used by all parties involved in the testing process, from test development to test administration, scoring, test analysis, score interpretation and score reporting, in order to ensure the highest possible quality of the outcome and to minimize errors.
Finally, the ITC has also produced documents which are not Guidelines per se, but mere Guides. Such is the nature of the ITC's Test-Taker's Guide to Technology Based Testing, which was developed under the leadership of Dave Bartram (United Kingdom), Iain Coyne (United Kingdom) and Dragos Iliescu (Romania). The aim of this Guide is to let test-takers of computer-based tests what to expect from the testing process, and also make them aware of their rights and responsibilities in the testing process. The Guide is published as a glossy leaflet and can be print and distributed by publishers or various testing agencies or associations.
The International Journal of Testing
The International Journal of Testing (IJT) is the official journal of the ITC. The IJT was founded in 1999, under the presidency of Thomas Oakland (USA) and the editorship of Norbert Tanzer (Austria). Even before IJT, the ITC was active in publishing to an international audience, addressing issues important to the development and use of tests. The IJT replaced and expanded on the ITC Bulletin, which used to appear before the founding of IJT (1993-1999) three times every year in the European Journal of Psychological Assessment (Oakland et al., 2001), and which had been edited by Ron Hambleton (USA) and later by Fons van de Vijver (Netherlands).
The IJT is now published by Taylor & Francis and has as co-editors Stephen Sireci (USA) and Rob Meijer (Netherlands). The IJT publishes original articles, interesting to an international audience, discussing theoretical issues, methodological approaches, and empirical research in the area of tests and testing. At this point of time the ITC has opened a Call for Nominations, for the next Editor of the IJT, who will enter office in 2013 for a 3-year period.
Testing International – The ITC Newsletter
The ITC publishes its Newsletter, Testing International (TI), twice every year, in June and December. The Newsletter is distributed to the ITC membership, and all editions of the past few years can also be downloaded on the ITC website. Testing International disseminates information of international relevance, about national and international assessment practices, projects and initiatives, conferences, workshops, books, papers, tests and any other issue in the area of tests and testing. The editor of TI is Jan Bogg (United Kingdom).
The ITC Conferences
The ITC organizes a scientific conference once every two years. Traditionally, the conference is held every time in another region of the world, so as to encourage as wide possible a participation and dissemination. The first conference independently organized and funded by the ITC was held in 1993 in the United Kingdom (St. Hugh’s College, Oxford University). The last few conferences were organized in Bruxelles (2006), Liverpool (United Kingdom), and Hong Kong (China). ITC conferences usually bring together around 400 delegates from a few dozens of countries. The eighth conference of the ITC is programmed for July 3-5 2012 and will be hosted by the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Details may be read on the conference website: http://conference.intestcom.org/.
Independently of its own conference, the ITC is involved in other conferences, either co-sponsoring, or participating with a dedicated program. Traditionally both the International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP) and the European Congress of Psychology (ECP) have dedicated ITC tracks on tests and testing. The next such track will be active at the 2012 ICAP, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, between July 22 and 27.
The ORTA project and other publications
As part of its mission to develop and disseminate knowledge in the area of tests and testing, the ITC has founded a project dubbed On-line Readings in Testing and Assessment (ORTA). This project is available on the ITC website at http://www.intestcom.org/Publications/ORTA.php and aims to provide a number of independent papers, integrated in a common frame, on aspects related to testing and assessment. The objective of ORTA is to contribute to the knowledge base accessed by instructors and students, especially in developing countries, in order to better prepare psychometricians, assessment practitioners, and researchers for their practice in the areas of testing and assessment. The ORTA content is available online, free of charge. Editors of ORTA are Marise Born (Netherlands) and Cheryl Foxcroft (South Africa).
The ORTA project is only one of many efforts on part of the ITC to contribute to scientific literature in its chosen domain. The ITC's long-standing commitment to generate and disseminate information related to tests and testing are visible through the effort of prominent members of the ITC in this field. Publications such as Hambleton and Zaal (1991), Hambleton, Merenda and Spielberger (2001), Oakland and Hambleton (1995), stand proof of this commitment. The newest evolution in this series is the forthcoming International Handbook of Testing, an ITC project under the leadership of Frederick Leong (USA).
ITC Research Projects
The ITC has promoted or has been involved in many international research projects. The results of the first such survey were presented during the IAAP congress in 1978, later these and other such results were published by Poortinga (1978) and Poortinga et al. (1982). The latest in this line of internationally relevant surveys in tests and testing is under development at this point of time.
The International Survey on Test Attitudes is an update and expansion of original research coordinated by Arne Evers (Netherlands), Jose Muniz (Spain) and Dave Bartram (United Kingdom), for the European Federation of Psychologists' Association's (EFPA) Standing Committee on Tests and Testing, in 2008-2009.
The ITC is a sound professional organization. It has a clear mission and its leadership adheres to and promotes a compelling vision. Its goals are both worthwhile pursuing and impactful at international and national levels. The ITC has a sound financial situation, which permits expansion and several important new projects. It has a sound member base, both among national bodies of psychology, among other organizations interested in the field of testing, like universities, research institutes, consultants or test publishers, and among individuals interested in the realm of tests and testing. Its members, from all around the world, form a colored, vivacious, active and enthusiast group.
The ITC offers a lot to its members and to the community al large. It organizes a conference once every two years, publishes a scientific journal and a newsletter, publishes its renowned guidelines, runs international surveys and other research, contributes to the growth of the international knowledge base related to tests and testing through ORTA, the International Handbook of Testing, and other projects, and generally promotes good practices in its area.
The ITC has built momentum over the years, due to the enthusiasm and dedication of its members and leadership, which count some of the most prominent figures of this field (for a complete list of the ITC officers until the year 2000, please see Oakland et al., 2001). Many of its projects have come to bear fruit during the last years and many will still come to completion in the following years. It has risen to one of the foremost fora of expertise for the field of educational and psychological testing.
Hambleton, R. (1994). Guidelines for adapting educational and psychological tests: A progress report. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 10, 229-244.
Hambleton, R. K., Merenda, P., & Spielberger, C. (Eds.). (2001). Adapting educational and psychological tests for cross-cultural assessment. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Hambleton, R. K., & Zaal, J. N. (Eds.). (1991). Advances in educational and psychological testing. Boston: Kluwer Academic.
Oakland, T., & Hambleton, R. (1995). International perspectives on academic assessment. Boston: Kluwer Academic.
Oakland, T., Poortinga, Y. H., Schlegel, J., & Hambleton, R. K. (2001). International Test Commission: Its History, Current Status, and Future Directions. International Journal of Testing, 1, 3-32.
Poortinga, Y. H. (1976). Report of the general meeting held in Paris on July 23rd 1976. Newsletter of the International Test Commission, 7, 2-11.
Poortinga, Y. H., Coetsier, P., Meuris, G., Miller, K., Samsonowitz, V., Seisdedos, N., & Schlegel, J. (1982). A survey of attitudes toward tests among psychologists in six Western European countries. International Review of Applied Psychology, 31, 34-42.
Van de Vijver, F., & Hambleton, R. (1996). Translating tests: Some practical guidelines. European Psychologist, 1, 89-99.