Academic journal article International Journal of Applied Educational Studies

Response Latency Effects on Classical Test Theory Indices and Pass/fail Decisions

Academic journal article International Journal of Applied Educational Studies

Response Latency Effects on Classical Test Theory Indices and Pass/fail Decisions

Article excerpt


Assessment of student learning plays a significant role in the educational process. The effectiveness of instruction and instructional decisions depend largely on the ability of educators to construct and select tests and assessments that provide valid, reliable, and fair measures of learning outcomes (Linn & Gronlund, 1995). The nature and the quality of gathered information can direct the instruction and control the educational development efforts.

Education professionals often desire to use tests for multiple purposes (Klein & Hamilton, 1999; Hamilton, Stecher, & Klein, 2002). The increased reliance on assessment and testing as an educational reform tool has raised serious issues related to the nature and the quality of the tests, the possible effects of testing on students, and the fairness of tests in large-scale assessments (Linn & Gronlund, 2002). It becomes necessary for professionals to understand the strengths and the weaknesses of large-scale assessments both as measures of student and school performance and as policy tools to change practice.

Two kinds of tests that differ in their consequences appear to be responsible for some of the variation in student performance. For one, high-stakes tests are often used to refer to a set of policies which include procedures that provide rewards and/or approval as a consequence of test scores on large-scale assessments. Second, low-stakes tests are used typically for judging schools' effectiveness, tracking the school-improvement efforts, and to provide information on student performance for teachers, policymakers, parents, and others. On the individual level, the consequences of low-stakes tests are considered to be relatively minor for both teachers and students. Conversely, on the institutional level, high performing schools receive academic achievement rewards, which might include public recognition, money to use for school improvement, or direct cash bonuses for staff. Constantly, low-performing schools face various forms of correction actions and possibly reconstitution by officials (Greene, Winters, & Forster, 2004; Hamilton, Stecher, & Klein, 2002; Thomas, 2005).

Students' success on such tests depends not only on the teacher, but also on students' motives, interests, energy level, and other factors related to their background. Greene, Winters, and Forster (2004) reported that increased randomness in student answers on low-stakes tests might result from their investing lower levels of effort in taking those tests. Whenever the examinee perceives that his or her performance has little or no consequences, it is more likely that he or she will put little effort into the assessment. Consequently, their scores may not accurately reflect their true abilities (Wise & DeMars, 2003, 2005).

Different behaviors may appear during the testing session. Mislevy and Wu (1996) reported several reasons that some responses may not be observed for all examinees to all test questions. Under a typical testing setting, some examinees will not reach the last questions on a test because of the time limit, not-reached. Even when items are reached and read, some examinees may appraise the item's content and decide for their own reasons not to respond, omitted items. On the other hand, if the examinee realizes that there are no direct personal consequences based on his or her performance, the examinee may engage in random-guessing response behavior.

The increased use of tests which have no impact on grades may have discouraged students so that they do not try very hard, and do not perform at their actual ability levels. Students are not always motivated to give their best effort (O'Neil, Abedi, Miyoshi, & Mastergeorge, 2005). The motivational level of students may affect their performance, no matter their achievement level. Students may seriously underperform, make random-guessing responses, omit answers, or not finish the test, which are all signals of low motivation and noncompliance (Haladyna & Downing, 2004). …

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