Designing Computerized Adaptive Tests

Authored by: Tim Davey , Mary J. Pitoniak

Handbook of Test Development

Print publication date:  January  2006
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780805852646
eBook ISBN: 9780203874776
Adobe ISBN: 9781135283384


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This chapter focuses on computerized adaptive tests (CATs) that provide continuous scores through the use of individual items or sets of items that are naturally and inextricably linked. This focus excludes tests used for other purposes (e.g., to make classification decisions) and tests in which larger sets of unrelated items are used (e.g., in a multistage design). This chapter is written with the practitioner in mind and with an emphasis on identifying and discussing the decisions that must be made and the considerations that should be taken into account when designing and implementing a CAT. However, this discussion is necessarily preceded by a description of the psychometric methods and procedures that have been developed for administering and scoring adaptive tests. The chapter concludes with what may well be the most practical question of all: Under what conditions and circumstances is adaptive testing best employed? It is strongly argued that CAT is a good and viable choice only under very particular conditions. Indeed, many if not most of the operational problems that have occurred and been attributed to CAT are the result of it having been used under inappropriate circumstances. The intent is to provide practitioners with the information needed to realistically judge alternatives.

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