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The differential item functioning(dif) analysis of mathematics items in the international assessment programs

Yıldırım, Hüseyin Hüsnü
Cross-cultural studies, like TIMSS and PISA 2003, are being conducted since 1960s with an idea that these assessments can provide a broad perspective for evaluating and improving education. In addition countries can assess their relative positions in mathematics achievement among their competitors in the global world. However, because of the different cultural and language settings of different countries, these international tests may not be functioning as expected across all the countries. Thus, tests may not be equivalent, or fair, linguistically and culturally across the participating countries. In this conte! ! xt, the present study aimed at assessing the equivalence of mathematics items of TIMSS 1999 and PISA 2003 across cultures and languages, to fin! d out if mathematics achievement possesses any culture specifi! c aspect s. For this purpose, the present study assessed Turkish and English versions of TIMSS 1999 and PISA 2003 mathematics items with respect to, (a) psychometric characteristics of items, and (b) possible sources of Differential Item Functioning (DIF) between these two versions. The study used Restricted Factor Analysis, Mantel-Haenzsel Statistics and Item Response Theory Likelihood Ratio methodologies to determine DIF items. The results revealed that there were adaptation problems in both TIMSS and PISA studies. However it was still possible to determine a subtest of items functioning fairly between cultures, to form a basis for a cross-cultural comparison. In PISA, there was a high rate of agreement among the DIF methodologies used. However, in TIMSS, the agree! ment ra! te decreased considerably possibly because the rate o! f differ e! ntially functioning items within TIMSS was higher, and differential guessing and differential discriminating were also issues in the test. The study! also revealed that items requiring competencies of reproduction