Working paper

The relationship between test-taking disengagement and performance on MAP Growth retests


By: Steven Wise


Educators sometimes ask: do students rapidly guess because they don’t know the answer to a question, or do rapid guesses reflect a lack of engagement with the test? Would a student’s scores improve if that student engaged more with the assessment and rapidly guessed on fewer items? Examining MAP® Growth™ test scores and levels of student test engagement for over 100,000 tests for which students retested within one day, the results showed that students’ test taking engagement often differed between the initial test and the retest. Students who rapid-guessed less on retest tended to see score gains, sometimes greater than 10 RIT points, with the largest gains seen for students who initially showed the highest levels of rapid guessing. Students who rapid-guessed more on retest, in contrast, generally showed score declines. The findings provide evidence that that rapid guesses reflect a lack of engagement rather than a lack of knowledge, and support NWEA’s recommendation that educators should retest disengaged students. The findings also underscore the importance of increasing the student’s motivation before retesting to improve engagement and suggest that educators should be cautious if they do not retest students who show high levels of rapid guessing, since these scores pose a threat to the validity of the test score interpretations.

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