Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Vispoel, Walter P

First Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy N

Second Committee Member

Lee, Won-Chan

Third Committee Member

Welch, Catherine J

Fourth Committee Member

Cowles, Mary K


Educators and administrators often use sub-scores derived from state accountability assessments to diagnose learning/instruction and inform curriculum planning. However, there are several psychometric limitations of observed sub-scores, two of which were the focus of the present study: (1) limited reliabilities due to short lengths, and (2) little distinct information in sub-scores for most existing assessments.

The present study was conducted to evaluate the extent to which these limitations might be overcome by incorporating collateral information into sub-score estimation. The three sources of collateral information under investigation included (1) information from other sub-scores, (2) schools that students attended, and (3) school-level scores on the same test taken by previous cohorts of students in that school. Kelley's and Shin's methods were implemented in a fully Bayesian framework and were adapted to incorporate differing levels of collateral information. Results were evaluated in light of three comparison criteria, i.e., signal noise ratio, standard error of estimate, and sub-score separation index. The data came from state accountability assessments.

Consistent with the literature, using information from other sub-scores produced sub-scores with enhanced precision but reduced profile variability. This finding suggests that using collateral information internal to the test has the capability of enhancing sub-score reliability, but at the expense of losing the distinctness of each individual sub-score. Using information indicating the schools that students attended led to a small gain in sub-score precision without losing sub-score distinctness. Furthermore, using such information was found to have the potential to improve sub-score validity by addressing Simpson's paradox when sub-score correlations were not invariant across schools. Using previous-year school-level sub-score information was found to have the potential to enhance both precision and distinctness for school-level sub-scores, although not for student-level sub-scores. School-level sub-scores were found to exhibit satisfactory psychometric properties and thus have value in evaluating school curricular effectiveness. Issues concerning validity, interpretability, suitability of using such collateral information are discussed in the context of state accountability assessments.


Bayesian, collateral information, diagnostic, educational assessment, hierarchical modeling, subscore


x, 176 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 140-143).


Copyright 2009 Shuqin Tao