# Disordered Steps?

"I have been analyzing a mathematics examination with the partial credit model. The test consists of 47 items, each of which can have ratings from 0 to 9. On examining the output, I find some step calibrations are out of order. This occurs because a higher proportion of persons get extreme ratings than get intermediate ratings. Thus the rating of a partially correct performance has a more difficult step calibration than the rating of a perfect performance. Of course, as one goes up the scale, the accumulated category count of all those who got each rating or lower monotonically increases. It would appear that such accumulated counts give a clearer picture of the scale. Do you agree with my reasoning?"

Dear Fred:
You observe that "some step calibrations are out of order". The difficulty of reaching a higher step is less than that of a lower step. This shows that not all your categories are modal. Some categories are never most probable at any ability level. David Andrich sees this "disordering" as a symptom of item or rating scale invalidity.

Geoff Masters points out that step difficulty is not the difficulty of performing the category, but only of observing the category relative to its previous category. Imagine a test in which children are asked to count from 1 to 10. The rating scale is:

does not count up to 1 correctly:0
counts up to 1 thru 6 correctly:1
counts up to 7 correctly:2
counts up to 8 thru 10 correctly:3

Each category represents greater success than the previous category. Observing category 2, however, is unlikely when compared to categories 1 or 3. Consequently step difficulties will be disordered. The step from 2 to 3 will be easier than from 1 to 2. This has nothing to do with the difficulty of the tasks. It is determined entirely by our peculiar specification of the rating scale, a specification that David would criticize.

Geoff suggests that instead of thinking of step difficulties, we think of Rasch-Thurstone thresholds (obtained via step difficulties). You have hit on Thurstone's approach with your "accumulated counts." F. Samejima and P. McCullagh also use models like Thurstone's, but it is not a measurement model because it does not allow parameter separability, i.e., it is not "test-free" nor "sample-free" nor has sufficient statistics.

Thurstone's idea, though, is good for interpretation. The Thurstone threshold is that "median" point on the underlying variable at which categories below are as probable as categories above. These thresholds are always in order along the variable. The interval between thresholds can represent that part of the variable corresponding to a category. As Geoff points out, Rasch-Thurstone thresholds can be calculated from step difficulties. These are the thresholds reported by Rasch programs.

Here are the results for your Item 27 (rescaled in WITS). Category 5 is rarely observed, so it is "hard" (58.8) to get into, and "easy" (47.4) to get out of. The category probability curves show only categories 0, 1, 4, 6, 7 as modal. The thresholds are ordered, but crowded together, because each category corresponds to only a narrow interval on the variable.

----------------------------------
RATING     COUNT   STEP  Rasch-Thurstone THRESHOLD
----------------------------------
0          15    -        -
1          11   52.1     49.3
2           7   53.1     51.3
3           5   53.0*    52.0
4           8   49.8*    52.6
5           2   58.8     53.6
6           7   47.4*    53.9
7           5   55.2*    56.8
----------------------------------
* = disordered step calibrations

CATEGORY PROBABILITIES: MODES
P      ---------------------------------------
R  1.0 +                                     +
O      +                                     +
B      +00                                777+
A      +  00                            77   +
B   .8 +    00                        77     +
I      +      0                     77       +
L      +       00                  7         +
I      +         0               77          +
T   .6 +          0             7            +
Y      +          0            7             +
.5 +           0          7              +
O      +            0         7              +
F   .4 +            0        7               +
+             0      *6666            +
R      +              0    *     66          +
E      +        111111*   67       66        +
S   .2 +      11       *4**4         66      +
P      +   111      22***7  4          666   +
O      +111      222 *3***3  44           666+
N      +     2222 ***66*55****5***           +
S   .0 +***************    0*****************+
E      ---------------------------------------
39    43    47    51    55    59    63

RASCH-THURSTONE THRESHOLDS: MEDIANS
p= .5 +0----------1--23456---7--------------+
---------------------------------------
39    43    47    51    55    59    63
MEASURE

Disordered Steps?, F Shaw, B Wright, J Linacre … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1992, 6:2 p. 225

Rasch-Related Resources: Rasch Measurement YouTube Channel
Rasch Measurement Transactions & Rasch Measurement research papers - free An Introduction to the Rasch Model with Examples in R (eRm, etc.), Debelak, Strobl, Zeigenfuse Rasch Measurement Theory Analysis in R, Wind, Hua Applying the Rasch Model in Social Sciences Using R, Lamprianou El modelo métrico de Rasch: Fundamentación, implementación e interpretación de la medida en ciencias sociales (Spanish Edition), Manuel González-Montesinos M.
Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Probabilistic Models for Some Intelligence and Attainment Tests, Georg Rasch Rasch Models for Measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Best Test Design - free, Wright & Stone
Rating Scale Analysis - free, Wright & Masters
Virtual Standard Setting: Setting Cut Scores, Charalambos Kollias Diseño de Mejores Pruebas - free, Spanish Best Test Design A Course in Rasch Measurement Theory, Andrich, Marais Rasch Models in Health, Christensen, Kreiner, Mesba Multivariate and Mixture Distribution Rasch Models, von Davier, Carstensen
Rasch Books and Publications: Winsteps and Facets
Applying the Rasch Model (Winsteps, Facets) 4th Ed., Bond, Yan, Heene Advances in Rasch Analyses in the Human Sciences (Winsteps, Facets) 1st Ed., Boone, Staver Advances in Applications of Rasch Measurement in Science Education, X. Liu & W. J. Boone Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences (Winsteps) Boone, Staver, Yale Appliquer le modèle de Rasch: Défis et pistes de solution (Winsteps) E. Dionne, S. Béland
Introduction to Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (Facets), Thomas Eckes Rasch Models for Solving Measurement Problems (Facets), George Engelhard, Jr. & Jue Wang Statistical Analyses for Language Testers (Facets), Rita Green Invariant Measurement with Raters and Rating Scales: Rasch Models for Rater-Mediated Assessments (Facets), George Engelhard, Jr. & Stefanie Wind Aplicação do Modelo de Rasch (Português), de Bond, Trevor G., Fox, Christine M
Exploring Rating Scale Functioning for Survey Research (R, Facets), Stefanie Wind Rasch Measurement: Applications, Khine Winsteps Tutorials - free
Facets Tutorials - free
Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (Facets) - free, J.M. Linacre Fairness, Justice and Language Assessment (Winsteps, Facets), McNamara, Knoch, Fan

 Forum Rasch Measurement Forum to discuss any Rasch-related topic

Go to Top of Page
Go to index of all Rasch Measurement Transactions
AERA members: Join the Rasch Measurement SIG and receive the printed version of RMT
Some back issues of RMT are available as bound volumes
Subscribe to Journal of Applied Measurement

Go to Institute for Objective Measurement Home Page. The Rasch Measurement SIG (AERA) thanks the Institute for Objective Measurement for inviting the publication of Rasch Measurement Transactions on the Institute's website, www.rasch.org.

Coming Rasch-related Events
May 17 - June 21, 2024, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com
June 12 - 14, 2024, Wed.-Fri. 1st Scandinavian Applied Measurement Conference, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden http://www.hkr.se/samc2024
June 21 - July 19, 2024, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Rasch Measurement - Further Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com
Aug. 5 - Aug. 6, 2024, Fri.-Fri. 2024 Inaugural Conference of the Society for the Study of Measurement (Berkeley, CA), Call for Proposals
Aug. 9 - Sept. 6, 2024, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (E. Smith, Facets), www.statistics.com
Oct. 4 - Nov. 8, 2024, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com
Jan. 17 - Feb. 21, 2025, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com
May 16 - June 20, 2025, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com
June 20 - July 18, 2025, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Rasch Measurement - Further Topics (E. Smith, Facets), www.statistics.com
Oct. 3 - Nov. 7, 2025, Fri.-Fri. On-line workshop: Rasch Measurement - Core Topics (E. Smith, Winsteps), www.statistics.com