The ins and outs of NWEA item development
At NWEA, it takes a lot of time and effort for a test item to “graduate” to production status and count toward a student’s final score. And that’s ok with us. Because we know educators, students, and parents rely on our items to provide valid, useful information that helps teachers maximize every student’s learning. And we understand that by asking the right questions, our assessments create better test experiences for students—and more accurate results for educators.
NWEA test content specialists see creating a high-quality test item as a fun but incredibly challenging puzzle: fun because there’s a creative component to it, challenging because so many pieces need to fit together just so. Before they can earn production status, items go through a rigorous calibration process and pass content-integrity, sound-construction, and cognitive-rigor criteria.
Good items give educators great data for helping students excel
NWEA assessments provide real-time information that helps teachers teach, students learn, and administrators lead. To adhere to best practices and do our by educators, for educators heritage proud, each test item must do all of the tasks below.
Test Item 101
Measure what it claims to measure (aligns to a standard)
Make sense to students
Eliminate barriers and be accessible to all students—regardless of socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, special needs, English language development levels, and more
Mirror the classroom experience as closely as possible
Meet all industry standardsiIndustry standards say that a dichotomously scored item (test question): has only one right answer; uses clear, concise wording; contains grammatically parallel options; lacks outlier options; and meets any other subject—and standard-specific—requirements.