The International Test Commission’s “ITC Guidelines for Translating and Adapting Tests” is a document that informs and directs our work adapting tests for different linguistic and cultural contexts. As a translation agency that specializes in high-stakes projects, we regularly translate and adapt tests and assessments in fields like education, health and human resources.

The wisdom of the guidelines’ first edition was an important part of our previous adaptations’ success. However, test development and adaptation continue to evolve as technology, practices and applications change. The second edition of the “ITC Guidelines for Translating and Adapting Tests” incorporates these new considerations and will guide our adaptation work going forward. But where did these guidelines come from and what exactly is in the second edition?

The ITC and the Original Guidelines

The International Test Commission is an association made up of test publishers, psychological associations and other organizations dedicated “to promoting effective testing and assessment policies and to the proper development, evaluation and uses of educational and psychological instruments.”

In 1992, the ITC began work on a set of guidelines for translating and adapting tests. A committee was formed and the guidelines were drafted and field tested.

The ITC formally adopted the “ITC Guidelines for Translating and Adapting Tests” in 2005 and published the first edition in its final form online in 2008. But their work was not done.

From 2005 to 2015, members of a second ITC committee, formally convened in 2007, worked to produce the second edition, which was published online in 2017 and is the subject of our attention today.

What’s in the Guidelines

The first edition contained 22 guidelines divided into four areas: Context, Test Development and Adaptation, Administration and Documentation/Score Interpretation.

The second edition, however, contains a set of 18 guidelines. Here each guideline is given and then immediately followed by an explanation as well as some suggestions for putting it into practice. The guidelines are divided into six areas: Pre-Condition, Test Development, Confirmation, Administration, Score Scales and Interpretation, and Documentation. The publication also includes a checklist for implementing the guidelines in an adaptation project and a glossary of terms.

The first edition was instrumental in providing a best practice framework for translating and adapting tests destined for different linguistic and cultural contexts. However, we find that the second edition is more practical, giving readers better guidance for implementation.

You can view the complete second edition of the “ITC Guidelines for Translating and Adapting Tests” here.

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