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Using Judgmental Estimates of Item Difficulty to Assemble Test Forms With Equivalent Cut Scores

Carlson, Alfred B.; Smith, Robert L.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Cutting Scores, Difficulty Level, Test Construction, Test Equivalence, Test Items


The feasibility of constructing test forms with practically equivalent cut scores using judges' estimates of item difficulty as target "statistical" specifications was investigated. Test forms with equivalent judgmental cut scores (based on judgments of item difficulty) were assembled. Comparisons between the judgmental and equated cut scores showed the judgmental cut scores to differ by one or two raw score points from cut scores obtained through equating procedures. Comparisons of equated cut scores for test forms constructed using judgmental estimates of item difficulty and those constructed using classical statistics suggested that judgmental estimates of item difficulty may be suitable for use as target "statistical" specifications when empirical item difficulties are not available or are unstable due to small sample size.

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