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Adaptive vs. Fixed Form Assessments: What’s the Difference?

Missouri’s public school students will transition to an entirely online Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing system in 2014-15. As you learn more about how your child will be assessed through the new MAP tests, you may hear the terms “adaptive” and “fixed-form” testing. Today on the Missouri Parent Blog, we’ll explain the difference between the two testing styles:

Adaptive Testing
Adaptive testing, also called computer adaptive testing (CAT) or “tailored testing”, is a method of testing that actively adapts to the test taker’s ability level during a computerized assessment.

In adaptive testing, a computerized algorithm adjusts future questions based on a student’s performance on past questions. In other words, the test bases the difficulty of future questions on whether a student has answered past questions correctly.

Adaptive testing provides a more accurate measure of student achievement than traditional, fixed-form testing does; specifically for the highest- and lowest-performing students.

The Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) Course Level Assessments (CLAs) for 3rd through 8th grade English language arts and mathematics use adaptive testing.

Fixed-Form Testing
In fixed-form testing, all students receive the same future questions, regardless of performance on past questions. If you took paper-and-pencil assessments as a student, then you’re familiar with fixed-form tests.

In Missouri, End-of-Course (EOC) assessments are fixed-form tests. This includes EOCs for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

To learn more about the Missouri Assessment Program, see these posts from Missouri Parent:

What is the Missouri Assessment Program?
Missouri Public Schools to Use CTB/McGraw-Hill 
How Will Missouri Assess the Common Core?
5 Ways Your Child’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation

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