On the Statistical and Heuristic Difficulty Estimates of a High Stakes Test in Iran

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Ali Darabi Bazvand http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2620-4648 Shiela Kheirzadeh http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4665-0554 Alireza Ahmadi


The findings of previous research into the compatibility of stakeholders’ perceptions with statistical estimations of item difficulty are not seemingly consistent. Furthermore, most research shows that teachers’ estimation of item difficulty is not reliable since they tend to overestimate the difficulty of easy items and underestimate the difficulty of difficult items. Therefore, the present study aims to analyze a high stakes test in terms of heuristic (test takers’ standpoint) and statistical difficulty (CTT and IRT) and investigate the extent to which the findings from the two perspectives converge. Results indicate that, 1) the whole test along with its sub-tests is difficult which might lead to test invalidity; 2) the respondents’ ratings of the total test in terms of difficulty level are almost convergent with the difficulty values indicated by IRT and CTT, except for the two subtests where students underestimated the difficulty values, and 3) CTT difficulty estimates are convergent with IRT difficulty estimates. Therefore, it can be concluded that students’ perceptions of item difficulty might be a better estimate of test difficulty and a combination of test takers’ perceptions and statistical difficulty might provide a better picture of item difficulty in assessment contexts.

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How to Cite
Bazvand, A. D., Kheirzadeh, S., & Ahmadi, A. (2019). On the Statistical and Heuristic Difficulty Estimates of a High Stakes Test in Iran. International Journal of Assessment Tools in Education, 6(3), 330-343. Retrieved from http://ijate.net/index.php/ijate/article/view/724
Author Biographies

Ali Darabi Bazvand, University of Human Development

Lecturer of Applied Linguistics, University of Human Development, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of English Language, Sulaimani, Kurdistan, Iraq

Tel.:+98 - 914 280 0134

+964 -770 058 4697

Email: alidarabi1350@gmail.com

Shiela Kheirzadeh, Sobhe-Sadegh Institute of Higher Education

Assistant Professor of TEFL, Sobhe-Sadegh Institute of Higher Education, Isfahan, Iran

 Tel.:+98- 2338373

Email: sh.kheirzadeh@yahoo.com


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