Statistics and Psychometrics

This line of research at ETS promotes new and improved psychometric and statistical methods and capabilities through innovation and development of foundational knowledge. It also seeks to measure skills, attributes and processes that so far have not been measured well, for example, collaborative skills and problem-solving strategies that go beyond providing the correct answer.

Our researchers in this field aim to:

  • support and improve ETS's testing programs and future assessments and services in line with ETS's strategic visions
  • advance the science and practice of assessment, measurement, statistics and educational research, and
  • improve quality and equity in education.

These improvements, innovations, and empirical investigations of statistical and psychometric methods are expected to benefit current and future testing programs (e.g., the TOEFL® tests, the GRE® tests) and large-scale assessments (e.g., National Assessment of Educational Progress, Programme for International Student Assessment), as well as the field of statistical and psychometric research. This is in line with ETS's mission that seeks to help advance quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services. This will serve all test takers, including underserved and disadvantaged learners and institutions that serve those learners.

ETS is a leader in educational assessment research. Here are examples of statistical and psychometric research conducted within ETS's Research & Development division:

  • Developing and improving methods for scoring, scaling and reporting complex assessments, including game-based and simulation-based assessments
  • Investigating how cognitive process and timing data can be used to enhance the analysis and reporting of assessment results
  • Improving methods for equating, which is a statistical process for ensuring that different versions of a test are equivalent in difficulty

Recent Publications in Statistics and Psychometrics by ETS Researchers

Below are some recent or significant publications that our researchers have authored.


  • An Investigation of the Impact of Misrouting Under Two-Stage Multistage Testing: A Simulation Study
    S. Kim & T. Moses (2014)
    ETS Research Report RR-14-01

    The authors investigated the potential impact of misrouting under a two-stage multistage test (MST) design, which included one routing and three second-stage modules. Differences in examinees' scores associated with different paths were examined through simulations that created a situation in which a large group of examinees followed each of the three possible paths. The impact of misrouting was minimal. View citation record >

  • Toward Increasing Fairness in Score Scale Calibrations Employed in International Large-Scale Assessments
    M. Oliveri & M. von Davier (2014)
    International Journal of Testing, v14 n1 p1–21, Jan–Mar 2014

    The authors investigate score scales that are comparable across countries in international assessments, by examining data from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) which involved 40 countries. The authors seek to improve fairness by accounting for item misfit in score scale calibrations for international large-scale assessments. They find that current score scale calibration procedures yield large numbers of misfitting items (higher than 25 percent for some countries). Their approach lowered the effects of the proportion of item misfit on score scale calibrations and also yielded enhanced model-data fit estimates. View citation record >

  • Psychometric Considerations in Game-Based Assessment
    R. Mislevy, A. Oranje, & M. Bauer et. al. (2014)
    GlassLab Research, Institute of Play

    This paper describes the formative assessment value of simulation games, as seen in the work to develop "SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge!" It is the first of several papers published by Institute of Play on the work and research of GlassLab. The authors of this report are affiliated with ETS, Institute of Play, Pearson, and Electronic Arts.  View citation record >

  • Equating Test Scores (without IRT), Second Edition
    S. Livingston (2014)
    ETS published book

    A nonmathematical introduction to equating, emphasizing conceptual understanding and practical applications. This is the second edition, which also covers raw and scaled scores, linear and equipercentile equating, data collection designs for equating, selection of anchor items, equating constructed-response tests (and other tests that include constructed-response questions), and methods of anchor equating. View citation record >

  • Toward Increasing Fairness in Score Scale Calibrations Employed in International Large-Scale Assessments
    M. E. Oliveri & M. von Davier (2014)
    International Journal of Testing, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 1–21

    The authors investigate the creation of comparable score scales across countries in international assessments and examine potential improvements to current score scale calibration procedures used in international large-scale assessments. View citation record >

  • Handbook of International Large-Scale Assessment: Background, Technical Issues, and Methods of Data Analysis
    L. Rutkowski, M. von Davier & D. Rutkowski (eds.) (2014)
    Chapman & Hall/CRC Statistics in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

    This handbook provides a broad guide to international large-scale assessments, behavioral statistics and policy. The handbook is of value to graduate students and researchers, as well as policy analysts familiar with quantitative methods without being expert in the field.
    View citation record >



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