The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) was created to support the advancement of quality education as well as equal opportunity, by encouraging fair, open, and educationally valid evaluations of schools, teachers, and students. FairTest has a mission to end the misuse of testing practices and the flaws that impede the goals of ensuring a solid education for everyone.
FairTest emphasizes the elimination of racial, gender, class, and cultural barriers to equal opportunity that are inherent to many standardized tests, with a focus on preventing damage to the quality of American education. The stated goals and principles of FairTest are to provide technical assistance, information, and advocacy related to a wide diversity of testing concerns, with special emphasis on K-12 grades, university admission requirements, and employment application tests. The group publishes an electronic newsletter called The Examiner, and also offers a comprehensive catalog of education material on testing to help teachers, students, parents, and administrators. FairTest also offers many fact sheets that provide information to educate the public about standardized testing as well as alternative assessment tools.
Some of the current projects it is currently involved in include the Assessment Reform network, which serves to simplify the exchange of information and ideas about education among teachers, parents, and civil rights organizations. It is also working to promote test score-optional policies related to college admissions; uncover the bias and coachability of the ACT, SAT, and other college entrance exams; attack the false and misleading ideas that test scores are equal to merit; stop the misuse of SAT/ACT scores in order to determine eligibility for financial aid for college students; establishing a new framework to be used for assessments by disseminating Principles and Indicators for Student Assessment Systems; working to expose flawed tests used by employers, such as the National Teacher's Exam (NTE), and being advocates for establishing hiring and promoting systems based on actual job performance.
The basic principles that FairTest uses as guidelines are that test assessments should be valid and fair, and should provide equal opportunity in measuring the knowledge and skills of students, without any bias on the basis of race, gender, learning style, income level, ethnicity, disability, or level of English proficiency. It believes that assessments should be conducted openly, with the public having access to tests and testing data, including proof of the test's reliability and validity. It also believes that tests and results should be available to parents, teachers, and students, in cases where assessments have important consequences.
The basic purpose of FairTest is to continually work to ensure that tests are used appropriately. They pursue this goal by focusing a spotlight on areas of concern, providing information and reviews about policies that need to be changed, and educating the public about testing and alternatives. Funding is provided by grants from the Ford Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundation, Schott Foundation, Polk Brothers Foundation, Woods Fund of Chicago, Wiener Educational Foundation, the United Church of Christ, and many individual contributors.