How can standardised tests be made appropriate for a range of pupils?
Standardised tests designed to include the majority of pupils will not cater well to those with very low or exceptionally high attainment. This is why digital-adaptive tests are designed to adjust the difficulty of questions—based on the responses provided—to match the knowledge and skills of a test taker. If a pupil gives a wrong answer, the computer follows up with an easier question; if the pupil answers correctly, the next question will be more difficult. So, digital-adaptive tests measure more precisely than fixed-form standardised tests.
"Digital-adaptive tests are a more precise measure as they are designed to adjust the difficulty of questions based on the responses provided."
Diagnostic tests are designed to highlight particular errors and misunderstandings which indicate a key learning need. If a pupil has very weak skills, they may require a test which allows them to work with material which is matched to their skill level, so scores reflect both the age of the pupil and the difficulty of the material used for testing. Diagnostic information is thus enhanced. The York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC), for example, gives scores for reading rate, error and comprehension.