Classical and Modern Item Analysis


Up until 25 years or so ago, item analysis was straightforward: multiple-choice test items were field-tested on reasonably sized samples of examinees to determine their level of difficulty and discrimination, and distractors were evaluated to determine their effectiveness in attracting examinees who were without the appropriate knowledge required for successfully answering the test items (see Crocker & Algina, 1986; Gulliksen, 1950; Lord & Novick, 1968). Items that were too easy or too hard, or less discriminating than other test items available to the test developer, were less likely to be selected for the final version of a test. In the 1970s, criterion-referenced tests were introduced into the testing field, and item analysis for these tests became less focused on determining levels of item difficulty and ...

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