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This study examined secondary-level students’ patterns of responding and the prevalence and impact of non-attempted items on a timed, group-administered, multiple-choice test of reading comprehension. Scores of the lowest-achieving subgroup were affected significantly by high rates of nonattempted items, particularly on the later third of the test. Further, the percentage of students who completed the assessment was far below that reported by the test authors. The results send a cautionary message to researchers and educators that when text comprehension is the primary assessment target, consider rates of nonattempted items and their impact on interpreting students’ text-processing skills.


Clemens, N. H., Davis, J. L., Simmons, L. E., Oslund, E. L., & Simmons, D. C. (2015). Students’ performance on a timed, multiple-choice reading comprehension assessment: The prevalence and impact of non-attempted items. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33(2), 154–165. doi:10.1177/0734282914547493

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Funding Source

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences



Type of Resource

Journal Article/Book Chapter


School Administrator

Grade Level

High School