Terms Relating to Scoring Assessments

Concept: Processing

Now we have variables as containers for values as well as declarations which tell us how those values should be computed, let’s look at the process of actually assigning the values.

This is a three-step process which is carried out not just at the end of the test but each time a test-taker submits a response to an item. (The reason this doesn’t all take place at the end of the test is to allow for adaptive tests, where the path through a test depends on the test-taker’s responses to individual items in it.) 

The three steps are: 

  1. Response Submission by the test-taker.
  2. Response Processing applying Response Processing rules.
  3. Outcome Processing applying Outcome Processing rules.

(Processing of) Response Submission

Response submission is defined as the moment when the test-taker submits a response to an item, for example by using the 'Submit' button, or navigating to another item. The value of the Response Variable, which was previously empty, is assigned during this step.

Response Processing

Response Processing is the process by which the raw responses of the test-taker are transformed into 'scores' (and then stored in outcome variables), according to a set of processing rules. The TAO Glossary defines Response Processing as "The process by which Response Variable values are scored and Item Outcome values are assigned".

In practice, Response Processing is what happens when a candidate submits a response. It only takes place at the item level. The way the response is processed is determined by the scoring method that has been configured for a specific item, using a set of rules called Response Processing Rules. These rules take the value of the Response Variable and compute values for the (Item) Outcome Variables.

Outcome Processing

Outcome Processing is the process by which specific outcome variable values are transformed into other outcome variable values, either at item level or at test level. The TAO Glossary defines Outcome Processing as "The process which tallies the values of Outcome Variables which are attached to an item to create other Outcome Variables attached to a test, in order to produce Test Outcomes".

In practice, the type of Outcome Processing we are mainly interested in here takes place at test level. When used at test level, the item scores are tallied during this process to produce a score for the test. This is carried out using a set of rules called Outcome Processing Rules. These rules take the values of the Item Outcome Variables and compute values for the Test Outcome Variables.