Test Item Development

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.

Next steps: Learn how NWEA assessments help educators make a real difference in the classroom