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Front Psychol. 2010 Oct 15;1:167. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00167. eCollection 2010.

A Review of the Effects on IRT Item Parameter Estimates with a Focus on Misbehaving Common Items in Test Equating.

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Department of Education Sciences, European University Cyprus Nicosia, Cyprus.


Many studies have investigated the topic of change or drift in item parameter estimates in the context of item response theory (IRT). Content effects, such as instructional variation and curricular emphasis, as well as context effects, such as the wording, position, or exposure of an item have been found to impact item parameter estimates. The issue becomes more critical when items with estimates exhibiting differential behavior across test administrations are used as common for deriving equating transformations. This paper reviews the types of effects on IRT item parameter estimates and focuses on the impact of misbehaving or aberrant common items on equating transformations. Implications relating to test validity and the judgmental nature of the decision to keep or discard aberrant common items are discussed, with recommendations for future research into more informed and formal ways of dealing with misbehaving common items.


common items; item parameter estimates; test equating

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