Computer Adaptive Testing
This represents a significant improvement over traditional paper-and-pencil assessments used in many states today. Computer adaptive testing adjusts to a student’s ability by basing the difficulty of future questions on previous answers, providing more accurate measurement of student achievement, particularly for high and low-performing students.
Frequently Asked Questions
Common questions about our online adaptive testing system:
If we are measuring ability to achieve specific benchmarks, why is there a difference in difficulty attached to the items that are given to some students and not others? The adaptive system selects items for each student that most accurately align with his or her performance on the test to that point. In general, students who are doing well on the test will see more difficult items, and students who are struggling will see easier items. Regardless of the difficulty of the items, all students are tested on the breadth of the grade-level content, and all students get an opportunity to demonstrate their higher-order thinking skills.
How is a student's achievement measured from one test to another if there is also the factor of difference in difficulty of items given to students at different times? Each item has a measured difficulty, so the items can be arranged along a scale. Student scores lie along that same scale. Imagine two students, one getting difficult items and the other receiving easier items. Suppose they both get half of their items correct. The student with the more difficult items will get a higher score. This is made possible through a statistical process known as equating, and it is used on virtually all contemporary tests.
How is the state testing office informing teachers, parents, students, and the public about the way students are being tested, e.g., the adaptive construction of the tests? Everyone is encouraged to visit the
important information page of our assessments website.
What is the purpose of making a test adaptive? An adaptive test gives a more precise estimate of ability for most students than a comparable fixed form test. This provides better instructional information, more accurate measures of growth, and a challenging but accessible testing experience for each student.
If teachers are going to be evaluated on the progress of their students on the Smarter Balanced tests, how is the adaptive construct being factored in? The adaptive design makes the assessments among the fairest ways to measure student growth because the design can accurately measure students along a broader range of the proficiency continuum. This is not always the case with traditional tests that administer the same items to every student.
How does marking a question for review during the test affect the next question? Does it lower the level and value? Does it remain at the same difficulty level? Marking a question for review does not in any way affect the selection of subsequent questions. It is simply a way for a student to make a note to himself or herself to review the initial answer for a question. Only a student’s initial response to a question (independent of whether the question is marked for review), which is used to update the student’s ability estimate, will affect the selection of subsequent questions. If a student changes the initial response to a marked or unmarked question, the change in response will result in an update of the student’s ability estimate, which will affect the selection of any additional questions.