Standardized Test Reporting Explored in Research

Ethan Arenson is interested in establishing a more precise method of scoring student work.

"Basically, I am looking at alternative ways to score exams and tests," said Arenson, a PhD student in Educational Psychology at UIC.

Working with George Karabatsos, a professor with the Department of Educational Psychology in UIC's College of Education, Arenson is currently analyzing data for trends in mathematics and science testing for eighth grade students.

The public data Arenson utilizes was compiled through the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), an international educational research study on fourth and eighth grade student achievement.

"Our primary focus right now is on making sure the results are reasonable," Arenson said.

The next step is to compare the scoring models with current ones that are being used in classrooms.

The current models often result in inaccurate scores because of their overall simplicity, Arenson explained, comparing the models to a line equation.

"But using it may not be appropriate when the data you have is a quadratic," he said, continuing the analogy.

Recently, researchers have developed more complicated equations that can be used for more accurate outcomes, he said.

"When you think of standardized tests, you want to be able to produce scores as accurate as possible," he said. "The new (models) apply equally to students in all areas– not just urban, but suburban and rural."

Overall, Arenson hopes the work will build a more accurate scale.

"Everyone can use the scale," he said. "You want it to be a good indicator of how much you're actually learning."