Item response theory
In psychometrics, item response theory (IRT) is a paradigm for the design, analysis, and scoring of tests, questionnaires, and similar instruments measuring abilities, attitudes, or other variables. It is a theory of testing based on the relationship between individuals' performances on a test item and the test takers' levels of performance on an overall measure of the ability that item was designed to measure. Several different statistical models are used to represent both item and test taker characteristics. Unlike simpler alternatives for creating scales and evaluating questionnaire responses, it does not assume that each item is equally difficult. This distinguishes IRT from, for instance, Likert scaling, in which "All items are assumed to be replications of each other or in other words items are considered to be parallel instruments" (p. 197). By contrast, item response theory treats the difficulty of each item as information to be incorporated in scaling items.