Frequently Asked Questions about Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT)
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Frequently Asked Questions about Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT)

What is Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT)?

Computer adaptive tests use an algorithm to adjust the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment, based on student responses. For example, a student who answers a question correctly will receive a more challenging item, while an incorrect answer generates an easier question. By adapting to the student as the assessment is taking place, these assessments present an individually tailored set of questions to each student and can quickly identify which skills students have mastered.

If students are asked different questions, how can we compare their results?

Each student's test must meet the requirements of the test blueprint.  The blueprint specifies the content areas and types of questions that will appear on the test.  For example, if the test blueprint requires that each student receive two questions about adding fractions, the adaptive software will select two questions from a group of perhaps a dozen that assess the ability to add fractions.

What is a test blueprint?

The test blueprint describes the content that will be covered on the assessment.  The New Hampshire Statewide Assessment test blueprint ensures that the full range of knowledge and skills in the New Hamspshire Statewide Assessment Standards will be assessed.  In addition, the test blueprint specifies the number and types of questions associated with each section of the assessment.  

Does the CAT pull out-of-grade-level questions?

The adaptive software is configured to select only from grade-level questions for approximately the first two-thirds of the test. At that point, if the estimate of the student’s achievement level is clearly at the lowest (or highest) level, the question pool is expanded to include (as needed) questions either from below (or above) the student’s grade level. Before being
used, out-of-grade questions are screened to make sure they are instructionally and developmentally appropriate. Questions will not exceed or be below two grade-levels from the designated testing grade.

Why do some students have a different number of test questions than others?

This is the nature of the CAT.  Students will have a slight variation in the number of questions they are presented based on the customized, adaptive test.