Technology-Based Assessment Project

Project Overview

The Technology-Based Assessment (TBA) is a project undertaken by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for NAEP in 2000–2003. The project was designed to explore the use of technology, especially the use of the computer, as a tool to enhance the quality and efficiency of educational assessments. Virtually all of the nation's schools are equipped with computers, and students are using them with increasing frequency. Among other things, these studies examined how students perform on computer-based versus paper-based mathematics and writing assessments, how population groups are affected, and how the operational and logistical mechanics of computer-delivered assessments are affected.

TBA was designed with five components—three empirical studies (Mathematics Online, Writing Online, and Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments), a conceptual paper (Computerized Adaptive Testing), and an online school and teacher questionnaire segment, which is already operational. The three empirical studies were the primary focus of the TBA project.

Issues/Key Questions of Studies

The key questions being considered in the three studies were:

  • Measurement—
    • How does the method of test delivery (computer versus paper) affect the inferences that can be drawn about students’ mathematics or writing skills? Do students perform differently across the two types of delivery?
  • Equity—
    • How do different population groups perform, and does that performance vary because of the method of delivery?
    • How are students with different levels of computer experience affected by a computer- versus a paper-based mathematics or writing assessment?
  • Efficiency—
    • Is a technology-based assessment more cost-effective or timely than a paper one?
    • How might technological advances like automated scoring affect the cost and timeliness of an assessment?
  • Operations—
    • What are the logistical challenges of administering a NAEP assessment on computer?

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Last updated 19 November 2015 (JM)