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Finding the Best Online Assessment Software

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Online assessment software is a key business platform for many types of organizations, from K12 schools to universities to employment to certification/licensure. There are many possible solutions in the marketplace, so how can you tell them apart? This blog post provides a list of important functionalities and components that you should consider.

How to Evaluate Online Assessment Software

The power behind these functionalities serves as a continuum of quality. It is extremely easy to build a simple platform for multiple choice quizzes or surveys. On the other end, it takes millions of dollars to develop a high-quality platform that supports everything in this list. So if you are shopping for online assessment software, start by evaluating this list to determine where on that continuum your organization falls. Once you have a clear list of required and nice-to-have functionalities, you can start shopping more effectively.

Want to start out with a free account in a platform that does all these things? Please fill out our contact form and we’ll get you set up.

Item Banking

Item banking refers to the process of building and managing large pools of test items (questions) that can easily be reused and revised.

  • Item authoring
  • Comments
  • Rationale
  • Formatting/display
  • Versioning
  • User edit tracking
  • Tracking of which test forms have used each item
  • Storage of classical item statistics
  • Storage of item response theory parameters
  • Customizable review workflow
  • Tech-enhanced item types
  • Separate module for managing multimedia files, so they can be treated as reusable objects

Test assembly and management

A professional online assessment platform should provide a module for assembling, publishing, and managing test forms.

  • Item selection
  • Test sections
  • Subscores
  • Evaluation of classical and IRT form statistics (e.g., test information function)
  • Parallel form assembly
  • Printing to paper
  • Online publishing with extensive controls over time/navigation/etc.

Online delivery

Online exam delivery is arguably the most important part of online assessment software.  There is a MASSIVE range out in the market, though – from simple survey engines to powerful platforms with AI and dozens of item types.

  • Customizable options (time limits, section limits, navigation, etc.)
  • Widgets (calculator, protractor, notepad, etc.)
  • Linear on the fly testing
  • Adaptive testing
  • Item response theory scoring (especially with polytomous models for tech-enhanced items)
  • Testlets (e.g., reading passage with multiple questions on same screen)
  • Lockdown browser for secure delivery
  • Secure examinee login
  • Customizable score reports
  • Customizable messages and instructional screens
  • Accessibility features
  • Brandability
  • Scheduling: time/date windows, specific assignment of students to groups and forms

Reporting

  • Full exports of all data: raw responses, scored responses, response times, scores, examinee metadata
  • Classical item performance reports
  • Item response theory analysis
  • Session dashboard with admin controls (submitting abandoned students, etc.)
  • REST API connections

Administration

  • User management
  • Role based security
  • Content-limited user access
  • User action tracking
  • Secure logins
  • Redundant cloud-based architecture

Item development process

  • Development of clear blueprints
  • Entering such blueprints into the item banking system
  • Ensuring that all authors write items tagged to a blueprint objective
  • All items must be reviewed to confirm
  • Development of an Item Writing Guide
  • Training of item writers

Psychometrics

  • Test specifications
  • item response theory
  • Equating across forms
  • Item analysis and test reliability reports
  • Scaled scoring
  • Adaptive testing
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Nathan Thompson, PhD

CEO at Assessment Systems
Nathan Thompson, PhD, is CEO and Co-Founder of Assessment Systems Corporation (ASC). He is a psychometrician, software developer, author, and researcher, and evangelist for AI and automation. His mission is to elevate the profession of psychometrics by using software to automate psychometric work like item review, job analysis, and Angoff studies, so we can focus on more innovative work. His core goal is to improve assessment throughout the world. Nate was originally trained as a psychometrician, with an honors degree at Luther College with a triple major of Math/Psych/Latin, and then a PhD in Psychometrics at the University of Minnesota. He then worked multiple roles in the testing industry, including item writer, test development manager, essay test marker, consulting psychometrician, software developer, project manager, and business leader. He is also cofounder and Membership Director at the International Association for Computerized Adaptive Testing (iacat.org). He's published 100+ papers and presentations, but his favorite remains https://scholarworks.umass.edu/pare/vol16/iss1/1/.

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