Assessing students aged 25 and older
Exact was designed for use with students aged up to 24 years 11 months, and use with students older than this can create uncertainties when interpreting results. If the student is older than 24:11 then the program will use the norms for 24-year-olds when analysing results. However, international research studies have shown that, for the vast majority of the population within developed countries, literacy skills do not alter significantly during the period from age 24 to 54.10 Consequently, it is acceptable to use Exact with adults aged 25 and over if there are no satisfactory alternative tests available. Normative results for adults aged 25-54 should not be significantly different to those for adults aged 24; nevertheless, administrators should exercise caution when drawing conclusions about results of older adults, and this particularly applies to results of the typing to dictation test.
Normative assessment of typing speed in adults aged 25 and over presents particular psychometric challenges because of the significant effects of cohort (i.e. most younger adults are able to type while most older adults cannot) and experience (i.e. most adults who have to use computers in their jobs can type much better than others), and also because this skill is changing very rapidly in the population as use of computers increases dramatically. Consequently, norms for typing speed of adults aged 25+ will inevitably be subject to large confidence limits, which would affect their reliability when making decisions about eligibility for access arrangements in examinations. When making decisions about whether the use of a word processor in examinations would be appropriate for adults aged 25+, assessors are therefore advised to rely more on their professional judgment about the typing competence of the individual than on normative test results for typing speed, for which Exact can only be certified up to the age of 24 years 11 months at the present time. However, Exact test results for typing speed will provide a useful comparison between the skills of any adult aged 25+ and the typical adult in their early 20s.
10 Satherley, P. & Lawes, E. (2008) The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey: Age and Literacy. Ministry of Education, New Zealand.
Scottish Government (2009) Scottish Survey of Adult Literacies: Report of Findings, Part 4. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
Cascio, E., Clark, D. & Gordon, N. (2008) Education and the age profile of literacy into adulthood. (Working Paper 14073) Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.