Equivalence of Testing Instruments in Canada: Studying Item Bias in a Cross-Cultural Assessment for Preschoolers


  • Luana Marotta Stanford University
  • Lucia Tramonte University of New Brunswick
  • J. Douglas Willms University of New Brunswick


Item bias, which occurs when items function differently for different groups of
respondents, is of particular concern to cross-cultural assessments. It threatens measurement equivalence and causes intergroup comparisons to be invalid. This study assessed item bias among francophone, anglophone, and Aboriginal preschoolers in New Brunswick, Canada. We used data from the Early Years Evaluation-Direct Assessment (EYE-DA), an assessment tool that measures children’s early educational development. The analytical approach used to investigate item bias is called differential item functioning (DIF). This study offers an application of DIF analysis that combines statistical testing and graphical representation of DIF. Analyses yielded consistent results revealing that linguistic and cultural differences between francophone and anglophone children are more challenging to achieve transferability than cultural differences between Aboriginal and anglophone examinees.

Author Biographies

Luana Marotta, Stanford University

PhD candidate in International Comparative Education at the Stanford University School of Education

Lucia Tramonte, University of New Brunswick

Assistant Professor at the Sociology Department of the University of New Brunswick

J. Douglas Willms, University of New Brunswick

Professor and Director of the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy at University of New Brunswick




How to Cite

Marotta, L., Tramonte, L., & Willms, J. D. (2015). Equivalence of Testing Instruments in Canada: Studying Item Bias in a Cross-Cultural Assessment for Preschoolers. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 38(3), 1–23. Retrieved from https://journals.sfu.ca/cje/index.php/cje-rce/article/view/1424