Detecting Preknowledge and Item Compromise

Understanding the Status Quo

Authored by: Carol A. Eckerly

Handbook of Quantitative Methods for Detecting Cheating on Tests

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138821804
eBook ISBN: 9781315743097
Adobe ISBN: 9781317588108


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Developments in technology have aided the construction of high-quality assessments, where some examples include the creation of on-demand computer-based testing and computerized adaptive testing. However, at the same time these developments have also facilitated the overexposure of items that can lead to invalid scores. Overexposure of exam content becomes a problem when it leads to some examinees having prior access to the live content before sitting for the exam, a phenomenon known as item preknowledge. Zara (2006) defines item compromise as occurring when an item’s performance has changed over time, and that change is due to “its content having been distributed beyond its defined valid usage boundaries” (p. 2). Therefore, item exposure is a necessary (barring an internal breach) but not sufficient condition for item compromise to occur.

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