, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp 280–291 | Cite as

The Impact of Fallible Item Parameter Estimates on Latent Trait Recovery

  • Ying ChengEmail author
  • Ke-Hai Yuan
Theory and Methods


In this paper we propose an upward correction to the standard error (SE) estimation of \(\hat{\theta}_{\mathrm{ML}}\) , the maximum likelihood (ML) estimate of the latent trait in item response theory (IRT). More specifically, the upward correction is provided for the SE of \(\hat{\theta}_{\mathrm{ML}}\) when item parameter estimates obtained from an independent pretest sample are used in IRT scoring. When item parameter estimates are employed, the resulting latent trait estimate is called pseudo maximum likelihood (PML) estimate. Traditionally, the SE of \(\hat{\theta}_{\mathrm{ML}}\) is obtained on the basis of test information only, as if the item parameters are known. The upward correction takes into account the error that is carried over from the estimation of item parameters, in addition to the error in latent trait recovery itself. Our simulation study shows that both types of SE estimates are very good when θ is in the middle range of the latent trait distribution, but the upward-corrected SEs are more accurate than the traditional ones when θ takes more extreme values.

IRT scoring pseudo maximum likelihood (PML) standard error upward correction latent trait estimation 


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Copyright information

© The Psychometric Society 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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