Methods for estimating item-score reliability

E.A.O. Zijlmans, L.A. van der Ark, J. Tijmstra, K. Sijtsma

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22 Citations (Scopus)
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Reliability is usually estimated for a test score, but it can also be estimated for item scores. Item-score reliability can be useful to assess the item’s contribution to the test score’s reliability, for identifying unreliable scores in aberrant item-score patterns in person-fit analysis, and for selecting the most reliable item from a test to use as a single-item measure. Four methods were discussed for estimating item-score reliability: the Molenaar–Sijtsma method (method MS), Guttman’s method λ6, the latent class reliability coefficient (method LCRC), and the correction for attenuation (method CA). A simulation study was used to compare the methods with respect to median bias, variability (interquartile range [IQR]), and percentage of outliers. The simulation study consisted of six conditions: standard, polytomous items, unequal α parameters, two-dimensional data, long test, and small sample size. Methods MS and CA were the most accurate. Method LCRC showed almost unbiased results, but large variability. Method λ6 consistently underestimated item-score reliabilty, but showed a smaller IQR than the other methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-570
JournalApplied Psychological Measurement
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Guttman's method (6)
  • correction for attenuation
  • item-score reliability
  • latent class reliability coefficient
  • method MS


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