OPERATIONAL CBT ISSUES in .NET framework

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OPERATIONAL CBT ISSUES
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sequential testing (CAST) of Luecht and Nungester (1998) employs adaptively administered multistage tests, using a fully pre-constructed con guration that allows test developers to implement strong quality controls on the test forms before they are released The distinction between pre-constructed CBTs and CBTs constructed in real time is relevant at many points throughout this chapter This chapter organizes the large array of operational CBT functional requirements into ve systems , each with several embedded subsystems In most cases, the system functionality is described within the context of preconstructed test forms For tests constructed in real time, the implied functionality does not change it migrates to another system This need for functional migration will be most evident between the test assembly and test delivery systems This type of functional migration is highlighted, where relevant, for CAT and other types of test constructed in real time
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OPERATIONAL TESTING SYSTEMS
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This chapter describes ve systems that comprise a large-scale operational testing system: (1) item development and banking; (2) test assembly and composition; (3) examinee registration and scheduling; (4) test delivery; and (5) post-examination processing Each of these systems also has several subsystems that perform specialized functions Obviously, the individual systems and subsystems must work together in an integrated fashion They must also be designed to allow for future changes and minimize the potential for any ripple effects often associated with small system modi cations that have unpredictable consequences elsewhere in the overall system It all starts with recognizing the functional requirements of the individual systems within the integrated enterprise-level testing system In that sense, this chapter is a high-level system design requirement document that may prove useful to organizations considering the move to CBT Figure 51 provides a conceptual architecture that shows the ve systems and subsystems discussed in this chapter Although these systems are discussed primarily from the perspective of software design, keep in mind that there are numerous implicit procedures and operations that are likewise performed or managed by humans That is, many human activities and decisions are integral to successfully implementing and maintaining an operational CBT enterprise
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Item Development and Banking System
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The item development and banking system contains three subsystems that need to work together and with other systems to generate, store, and maintain the supply of items needed to build tests The subsystems are (1) the item
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Item Development & Banking Item Database
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COMPUTER-BASED TESTING AND THE INTERNET
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Test Assembly & Composition Automated Test Assembly (ATA) Examinee Registration & Scheduling Examinee Eligibility
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Item Authoring & Prototyping Inventory Control & Management
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Test Materials QC
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Registration & Payment
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Test Composition
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CBT Scheduling
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Test Delivery
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Post-Examination Processing Data Reconciliation
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Test Center Facilities
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Connectivity & Data Transmission
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Data Archiving
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Proctoring & Security
Psychometric Analyses
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Final Scoring
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High-level conceptual architecture of a CBT enterprise
database, (2) the item authoring and prototyping subsystem, and (3) the item inventory control and management subsystem
Item Database An item database is what most people probably think of when they hear the phrase item bank Although some item databases have relatively simple le structures, an item database for CBT needs to be a complex data repository capable of storing sets of a variety of data objects, their relations, and associated functions sometimes distributed across multiple sites and platforms Fortunately, database technology has evolved from simple relational database schemes with structure query language (SQL) interfaces and basic online transaction processing (OLTP) capabilities to using data-centric models that work on distributed Internet platforms It is even possible to have database clusters than are physically located at multiple sites, providing
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OPERATIONAL CBT ISSUES
capabilities for massive, fully integrated data storage, retrieval, and manipulation An item database is a repository for storing a variety of data including text, pictorial images, exhibit references, and application data, content codes, skill codes, and other categorical attributes associated with the items, numerical item attributes such as word counts and readability indices, and statistical data such as p-values (item proportion-correct statistics), calibration-based statistics and estimation errors for various IRT models, aggregated item-set statistics, and DIF statistics In addition, the database system needs to deal with potentially complex hierarchical relations among the data objects in the repository (eg managing item sets or testlets) and scripts associated with complex item types such as computer-based performance simulations The basic functional requirements for an item database include userde nable elds, exible data structures based capable of supporting hierarchical data object models, capabilities to store embedded scripting and applicationspeci c data (eg look-up tables or reference materials), multilingual capabilities, importing and exporting capabilities for XML and other standard database formats, robust error correction, portability across platforms, and computation support for statistical item banking2 Some CBT item database subsystems are custom applications that use proprietary le formats and provide specialized data manipulation and reporting functions for particular testing applications Other item databases are based on commercial database products such as OracleTM (Oracle Corporation), SQL ServerTM (Microsoft Corporation), or DB2 (IBM) These latter, commercial products tend to be more portable across platforms, are scalable in terms of size and scope of the database and associated applications, and typically provide very exible and robust capabilities For example, changing the database structure in a custom database application (eg adding or modifying data elds) can be tedious in terms of the required amount of design and computer programming needed Ripple effects associated with changing data structures also need to be considered in other parts of the system and may require even more extensive re-programming to be done Making those same changes in a commercial database product, such as Oracle, SQL Server, or DB2, is relatively simple since these modern database systems can essentially self-modify the entire system-level application to take advantage of the changes Item Authoring and Prototyping A second important requirement of an item development and banking system is support for item authoring and prototyping Because of the unavoidable large
Item banking refers to procedures for updating the stored statistics, such as IRT statistics, that are subsequently used for test assembly and possibly for scoring Since each item may contain multiple statistics from different time frames or calibrations, the item banking process should provide ways to exibly select and combine speci c item statistics
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