Expanding the Meaning of Adaptive Testing to Enhance Validity


  • Steven L. Wise NWEA



The computerized adaptive test (CAT), which adjusts the difficulty levels of administered items to match the ability levels of the test takers, has a long history of providing efficient testing.  After 50 years of research, however, CATs have evolved little beyond the initial idea of adapting item difficulty.  In this paper I suggest that we begin viewing adaptation in a more expanded manner, arguing that measurement will be further improved by a CAT’s being able to detect and adapt to the presence of construct-irrelevant factors that threaten the validity of individual test scores.  Several examples of innovative adaptations currently provided by an operational CAT program are discussed.