Differential item functioning among mainland U.S. and Hawaii examinees on the verbal subtest of the scholastic aptitude test

Saka, Thomas T.
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The objective of this study was to investigate the systematic factors affecting the scores of Hawaii college-bound students taking the verbal subtest of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). In recent years, much attention has been focused on the SAT in the state of Hawaii because its mean verbal scores have consistently been among the lowest 10% of all states on the verbal section. The study consisted of two parts. Part 1 involved the identification of items and types of items which have been answered differentially by Hawaii students in comparison to Mainland U.S. students. The items were identified through the use of differential item functioning (DIF) procedures which assess performance differences between individuals, of the same overall scholastic aptitude, from two groups. The results of the analyses indicated that there was a tendency for Hawaii students to perform less well than the reference group on the early items in each of the antonym sections and better than the reference group on the more difficult or later items in each section. Carelessness and unfamiliarity with the item type were identified as probable causes. Part 2 utilized a sample of Hawaii public school students who were exposed to a treatment curriculum which addressed the low performance on the types of items identified in part 1. Independent groups t-tests conducted between the treatment students and a sample from the original pool of 1988 examinees showed equivalence of performance on the pretest. However, the treatment students performed statistically significantly better than the controls after receiving the treatment. The DIF analyses identified systematic factors which were related to the low performance of Hawaii students on the SAT. The study showed that a one hour treatment, applied to specific areas of low scholastic performance, can be effective in raising the level of performance.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1992.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 147-158)
ix, 158 leaves, bound ill. 29 cm
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