Online Testing Research: Informing and Guiding Transitions to Computerized Assessment A white paper from Pearson Educational Measurement
Walter (Denny) Way, Ph. D. Vice President, Psychometric and Research Services
Using testing and assessment to promote learning
Online Testing Research: Informing and Guiding Transitions to Computerized Assessment April 2006
Introduction Pearson Educational Measurement has been a trusted partner in district, state and national assessments for more than 50 years. Our mission is to improve teaching and learning by providing the highest quality educational measurement solutions. We help states, school districts, teachers and parents use testing and assessment to promote learning and academic achievement. To accomplish this mission, we provide a comprehensive and integrated suite of services, Pearson Educational Measurement Solutions (PEMSolutions™), which is used to create, deliver, score, report and analyze summative, formative, English language, and alternative assessments, and provides many other custom online and paper-based testing and reporting services. A critical component of PEMSolutions is high-quality, scientifically-based research in support of our assessment services. In these times of visible and high-stakes assessments, research plays an important role in supporting state testing programs. PEM’s staff includes a growing number of researchers and psychometricians who provide research services in support of our clients. Perhaps the most active area of our research relates to the transitions many of our clients are making to introduce and expand online, computer-based administration as part of their assessment programs. The purpose of this paper is to highlight online testing research initiatives at PEM that we believe will help inform and guide states as they transition to online testing. This research includes reports that have been published in our PEM research report series as well as papers that were presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) conferences.
Online Testing Research to Inform Practice Virtually every state is considering online testing for at least some portion of their K-12 assessment program. The advantages of online testing are numerous. However, online testing also presents psychometric challenges and a number of areas where research is needed. Researchers at PEM have been working actively in several of these areas, including comparability of paper and online assessments, scoring essay responses online, computerized adaptive testing research, research on universal design for computer-based testing, and the design of user-friendly score reports that can be accessed either online or by paper. In the sections below, we highlight a number of these projects and provide links to research papers that can be accessed from PEM’s web site (www.pearsonedmeasurement.com).
Online Versus Paper Test Comparability Researchers have been investigating the comparability of online and paper assessments for many years. The need to establish comparability for K-12 assessment programs exists because the infrastructure for implementing online assessments is uneven across schools and school districts in virtually every state. Because not every school in a state can implement online testing for all their students, the expectation is that at least some schools will have to test by paper for the foreseeable future. This being the case, professional testing standards require that states provide evidence about score comparability when assessments are delivered both online and by paper. PEM has recently completed a research report that reviews the research addressing the comparability of computer-delivered tests and pencil-and-paper tests. The first part of the paper summarizes the state of online testing technology and the different methods used in the comparability...
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