Module 3: Reliability (screen 3 of 4)
Reliability and Test Selection

What does reliability have to do with the practical aspects of selecting and administering tests?  The chart below gives you several different ways to think about reliability and how it relates to selecting and using tests.  Click here to see the full explanations.

Reliability of student performance

One student should be able to take a test on Monday and then again on Tuesday and get very similar results each day. 

Reliability of scoring

The results should be the same no matter who scores the test and when they score it. 

Reliability between different forms of the same test

Different forms of a test have slightly different questions in a slightly different order.  However, the content and difficulty level are the same and a student should perform comparably on both tests. 


Before you select a test, you’ll want to think about your program, your needs, and the resources you have.  Is this a high-stakes test for the student?  If so, it is especially important that the test give consistent results each time.  Do students often contest their results?  Then it may be especially important to find a test whose reliability information has been published in the test manual or professional journal articles.  Do you have very few staff for scoring or even double-scoring the same test?  Then you may want to choose a test with objective responses that can be scored quickly and reliably by a person or machine.