Publications & Resources

Identifying Differential Item Functioning on the NELS:88 History Achievement Test

Oct 1999

Vi-Nhuan Le

This study examined gender-based differential item functioning (DIF) on the 10th-grade history achievement test administered as part of the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88). Several DIF analyses with varying matching criteria were conducted, and results were supplemented with a survey study that helped validate the interpretations of the underlying causes of DIF. DIF in favor of each gender corresponded to traditional sex-role stereotypes; males performed better on “masculine” items, whereas females were advantaged on “feminine” questions. The survey study confirmed that both high school boys and high school girls perceived the items to be sex-typed in the manner predicted by sex-role appropriateness. The findings revealed that the male advantage on this particular test was limited to specific content areas and did not represent a difference in overall proficiency.

Le, V.-N. (1999). Identifying differential item functioning on the NELS:88 history achievement test (CSE Report 511). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).