Journal of Educational Measurement

Using Weighted Sum Scores to Close the Gap Between DIF Practice and Theory

Early View

Abstract We make a distinction between the operational practice of using an observed score to assess differential item functioning (DIF) and the concept of departure from measurement invariance (DMI) that conditions on a latent variable. DMI and DIF indices of effect sizes, based on the Mantel‐Haenszel test of common odds ratio, converge under restricted conditions if a simple sum score is used as the matching or conditioning variable in a DIF analysis. Based on theoretical results, we demonstrate analytically that matching on a weighted sum score can significantly reduce the difference between DIF and DMI measures over what can be achieved with a simple sum score. We also examine the utility of binning methods that could facilitate potential operational use of DIF with weighted sum scores. A real data application was included to show this feasibility.

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