The Control File holds item metadata that is important for arranging the analysis, such as the correct answer to each item. It consists of 6 columns of metadata, with one row for each item as well as a header row with column titles for readability. It must be in a CSV format.
There are six columns of information in the control file for each item. Begin each item on a new line.
- Item ID: the name, ID, or Accession Number for each item.
- Correct answer(s) as A,B,C,D if unscored multiple-choice
- 1 if items are scored dichotomous. However, we recommend recoding so that 1=correct and 2=incorrect rather than 0=incorrect, as starting at 0 is reserved for partial credit items.
- For polytomous items: + if positively scored or – if negatively or reverse scored.
- If an item is multi-keyed (e.g., it was challenged and you want to accept both A and B as correct) then put both characters in the cell with nothing between them (AB)
- Number of alternatives (maximum is 15). For multiple-choice items that are scored 0 or 1, the number of options is 2. For a 4 option multiple choice, this is 4. For a partial credit item with possible points [0,1,2], there are 3 options.
- Domain or content area (unique domain label, maximum is 50).
- Inclusion status:
- Y = Yes (included in the analysis),
- N = No (not included),
- P = Pretest.
- Item type:
- M = Multiple-choice items with responses that begin at 1 or A. For scored multiple-choice items, see P below.
- R = Rating scale items: polytomous items with responses that begin at 1 or A. This is usually a Likert-type item, such as "Rate on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree."
- P = Partial credit items with numeric responses that begin at 0 (e.g., 0, 1, 2, 3). This includes multiple-category partial credit items. Examples include essay rubrics and tech-enhanced items with multiple answers (e.g., a list of 8 animals is shown and student drags the 3 mammal names into a box).
An example of the control file is shown below. There are 5 items in the test. The first 4 are MC and the fifth is partial credit with possible points [0,1,2]. Item03 is being left out because the inclusion is N.
If an item is polytomously scored, the key should be “+” if positively scored and “-” if negatively (reverse) scored. Item 5 is a positively scored (+) partial credit item with item responses that begin at 0.
The control file should have as many lines as there are items in the test, not counting the header row.
Example of an Item Control File