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Here are some brief updates and news for April 2012: new website and updates to Xcalibre 4, CATSim, and FastTest Web!

New ASC Website

To reflect ASC’s growing stature in the testing industry, we have released a new website that better reflects our new role as a comprehensive, world-class testing organization.  In addition to massively expanding our psychometric software capabilities, we now offer full consulting services, a network of secure testing centers, and software to completely manage the entire assessment process.  Check out the new site at www.assess.com!  We have also upgraded our new webstore (shopping cart system) and added a sleek, modern layout to be more customer-friendly; visit the store at https://assess.com/xcart/home.php. In addition, we are in the process of integrating Google Wallet functionality for enhanced credit card security and convenience.

ASC presents workshop to SADC in Botswana

ASC presented a workshop on item response theory (IRT) and computerized adaptive testing (CAT) to member countries of the Southern African Development Council.  The workshop took place March 4-9 in Botswana, and provided five days of background and hands-on instruction regarding the application of these modern methods to solving issues in educational assessment, with a focus on ASC’s landmark software, Iteman 4 and Xcalibre 4.  Such a combination of ASC’s consulting services and leading-edge software can help your organization move to the next level; contact solutions@54.89.150.95 to learn more.

FastTEST Web updates

FastTest Web (FTW), our platform for item authoring and internet-based assessment, is being upgraded almost continually to stay at the forefront of testing technology.  In March, we released functionality that allows tests to be published as a public link, ideal for low stakes exams or pilot testing, as an alternative to the high-security registration process currently in place.  This approach is integrated with new functionality for managing demographic information on examinees; you can request that examinees enter such information before starting the test.  Additionally, we rebuilt the item authoring tool to be more user-friendly and WYSIWYG.  As always, we’ve also released a number of small enhancements.  The next major release will include an advanced Asset Manager for multimedia and the capability for testlets, groups of items that share a reading passage or other common stimulus.

Xcalibre 4 updated

ASC’s cutting-edge software for item response theory has been substantially updated.  This is a free update for current license holders, and includes several bug fixes as well as improved functionality:

  • User can specify bounds for scaled scores
  • Lz person fit statistic now computed
  • Test response function (TRF) values are now output
  • Chi-square item fit statistics enhanced
  • Subgroup analysis based on DIF group membership
  • Rebuilt ranking of ability estimates to be much faster
  • Observed item response function (fit line) now includes multi-key items
  • Many more small improvements!

Current users can upgrade at our support page; new users can download a free version here.  Don’t forget that graduate students can obtain free licenses from the APM student grants program!

CATSim updated

CATSim, the software that provides the research necessary for computerized adaptive testing (CAT) has also been upgraded.  The update focuses primarily on bug fixes.  Current users can upgrade for free at our support page; new users can download a free version here.

ASC to present at 2012 SIOP Conference

ASC will present a mini-workshop on the development of computerized adaptive tests (CATs) at the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP) conference.  The session is scheduled for 1:30 P.M. on Friday, April 27.  More information is available at the SIOP website.  Please join us and learn about our CAT solutions and assessments!

IACAT Conference

An official conference website has been established for the 2012 IACAT Conference: please visit www.iacat.org  to register and learn more about this important meeting.  Also, we have been working on upgrades to the IACAT website; please visit http://iacat.org/ to see some of what we are working on.  It includes a comprehensive library of all CAT research, newsletters, and past conference proceedings.

CAT Workshops

ASC recently held a 5-day workshop on item response theory (IRT) and computerized adaptive testing (CAT) for the Botswana Examinations Council (http://www.bec.co.bw/).  In addition, there were participants from Namibia and Nigeria, expanding the scope of the discussion.  Much of the workshop focused on the use of ASC’s leading-edge software for IRT analysis, Xcalibre 4.  Thank you to BEC for organizing the workshop!

The first half of 2011 has been quite busy at ASC.  I have had the opportunity to visit Malaysia, India, and China for workshops on IRT analysis and adaptive testing.  It is exciting to see the growing interest for advanced psychometrics in those countries, and I am thankful to my friends for the chances to visit. The workshop in Malaysia was hosted by MIMOS Berhad, the one in India by the Ministry of Defence, and the one in China by Jiaxing University.

ASC has also presented at two conferences this spring, the Association of Test Publishers and the National Council for Measurement in Education.  Papers are available at our research page, https://assess.com/research.php.

IRT analysis and CAT software

ASC has also made major strides in its software.  FastTEST Web (www.fasttestweb.com) has ever-expanding functionality, with a focus on item response theory and computerized adaptive testing.  It remains the only publicly available platform for fully adaptive tests based on IRT.  Another important release was Xcalibre 4.1, which provides superior output for IRT analysis, as well as being the only IRT analysis program that is point-and-click.  That is, no DOS-style command code is needed, which makes IRT much more accessible to researchers and practitioners in a wide variety of fields.

I spent yesterday presenting at the Minnesota Assessment Conference.  My congratulations and thanks to the folks at the Minnesota Department of Education for again organizing a wonderful event with a huge range of topics, from technical psychometric issues all the way to practical district-level topics.  ASC’s plans for upcoming conferences include the CLEAR conference (Sept.  23-25), the European AEA conference (Nov. 4-6), and the Maryland Assessment Conference (Nov. 17-19).  We are also holding a workshop on Sept. 4-5 in Tokyo, Japan.

 

I often get inquiries from around the world about where the next ASC workshop is going to take place.  Given today’s economy, traveling long distances is not always an option, but assessment professionals still want to learn more about IRT and CAT.  For this reason, we have released a recording of our workshop in June 2009.  Now anyone can attend a workshop, for a fraction of the cost of attending in person.

 

FastTEST Web (www.fasttestweb.com) continues to be improved.  Development in July focused on the addition of a Reporting module.  Its purpose is to make test development more efficient by providing informative reports, such as a detailed assessment of the item bank to indicate where more questions are needed, or the current status of tests in your testing program.  The next addition will be computerized adaptive testing (CAT), which will allow anyone to easily create and deliver adaptive tests.

 

The new Iteman 4.1 is slated for release in August.   The most recent additions include a complete reliability analysis and a wizard-type interface for setting up multiple runs.  If you haven’t looked at Iteman 4 yet, I encourage you to check it out.  It is unique in that it is not designed just for statistical analysis, but to actually produce customized reports of high enough quality to provide to stakeholders – in mere seconds.

After more than a year of development, Iteman 4 is now ready for release!  A second beta version was announced to our mailing list in late March.  Given the positive feedback, the complete version will be released to the public during the week of April 5.  An announcement will be sent to the mailing list with a link to the Iteman 4 webpage.  Upgrade discounts are available.

FastTEST Web has also been released to beta users, but improvements continue to be made before the first public version is released.  We are already adding enhancements requested by users, such as item import options, an embedded equation editor, and a split-screen item format (to present a reading passage on one half and the test question on the other half).

We have been receiving inquiries about FastTEST Web for years, so this is highly anticipated.  What sets it apart from other systems is that it is not just a online test delivery engine; it is a test development system that is designed for measurement professionals, including certification/licensure managers, training managers, district assessment coordinators, psychometricians, and university professors.

Another workshop is now being planned: October 2010, outside Shanghai, China.  Stay tuned for more information on our website or via an email announcement.

Lately, I have been busy with the first IACAT election.  If you have not already voted, there is still some time.  Polls close on April 7.  Results will be released soon after that.  Board meetings will then be able to take place at the IACAT conference at Arnhem in June.  ASC psychometricians will be at the IACAT conference to present our research.  We hope to see you there!

I just got back from another Adaptive Testing workshop, this one at the Universita G. d’Annunzio, Chieti, Italy.  Many thanks to Aristide Saggino and Roberta Romanelli for doing such a great job organizing this workshop!  It was truly an international affair, with participants from the US, Canada, UK, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Brunei, and Korea.  Plus, besides getting to experience the Abruzzo region, many of us were lucky enough to spend a day or two visiting Rome.

Several participants inquired about future workshops, and the possibility of organizing one for their home country.  ASC currently has a future adaptive testing workshop tentatively planned in two locations: Tokyo (Sept 4-5, 2010) and Brasilia (June 2011).

Iteman 4

Iteman 4 is nearing release.  We are currently finishing the manual and the installation package for the program.  Once those are finished, it will be placed on the website.  Check back for news.  This will be a massive upgrade, providing output in Microsoft Word reports and Excel spreadsheets rather than 1980s-style ASCII text.

IACAT News for March

The first IACAT elections are being held in the middle of March 2010.  Visit www.iacat.org for more information.