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Finally Final: The QTI 3.0 Release


Contributed by Dr. Colin Smythe, 1EdTech Chief Architect


Finally Final: The QTI 3.0 Release

After more than seven years of development, we've published version 3 of the 1EdTech Question & Test Interoperability® (QTI®) specification. The QTI standard defines a structure for exchanging tests and questions to enable the authoring, distribution, and delivery of online assessments. In January 2015, we began work on the Charter for QTI 3.0, and in May that year, the Charter was authorized by the Technical Advisory Board. Finally, in May 2022, the core Assessment, Section & Item (ASI) features were completed and published as a Final Release specification. Why, in January 2015, after more than 15 years of development and a successful QTI 2.2 release, was it deemed necessary by the 1EdTech membership to create yet another new version? Feedback from our members identified three primary reasons:

  • QTI 2.2 was too complex, particularly in the handling of alternative content definitions for the various accessibility use-cases

  • Small but backward-incompatible changes were needed to the content model to support more of HTML5, to prepare for rendering using Web Component approaches, and to enable native delivery of the QTI Exchange Markup Language (XML) instances

  • New best practice defined layout control was needed to enable clear interoperability of that layout (essential for high-stakes oriented assessment)

We also realized that these changes would significantly improve the suitability and ease of adoption for QTI in non-high-stakes-based assessment/quizzing, thereby establishing a much greater opportunity for adoption of QTI.

The key changes in QTI 3.0 are:

  1. Support for transform-free authoring-to-delivery

  2. Reworking of the accessibility features introduced in previous versions of QTI and the Accessible Portable Item Protocol (APIP) 1.0

  3. Enrichment of the HTML-based content model to include more HTML5, Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA), and Cascading Stylesheet (CSS) features

  4. Simplification of the structure of the XML-based QTI-instances and adoption of a Web-Component friendly naming convention

  5. Definition of an extensive set of layout controls using CSS-based approaches

Together, all of these features create a non-backward compatible version, but we have been able to develop a simple migration path from QTI 2.x to 3.0 (more of this later).

The documents and artifacts released as part of the QTI 3.0 Final Release are:

  • Overview document (this explains how the document set fits together and guides the reader on how to use the rest of the documentation set)

  • Terms & Definitions document

  • Conformance & Certification document (formal definition of what an implementation must demonstrate to prove compliance with the specification)

  • Beginner's Guide document (a short introduction to creating QTI packages)

  • APIP to QTI 3.0 Migration document

  • Best Practice & Implementation Guide document (an extensive set of examples and the first document software developer should read)

  • Metadata Specification document (a single standalone document that defines and describes QTI-specific metadata and how it is used in QTI Packages)

  • Assessment, Section & Item Information Model document (only of interest to those who want a non-XML based formal description of the specification)

  • Assessment, Section & Item XML Binding document (software developers should use this as the formal reference manual)

  • The set of XML Schema Definition (XSD) files (these are also used in the 1EdTech Online validator)

  • An extensive set of examples of QTI Packages and Response Processing Template files

Newcomers to QTI should read the Beginner's Guide document. This introduces the key concepts of QTI Items, QTI Sections, QTI Tests, and QTI Packages with some simple examples. It includes the creation of a multiple-choice question: the "Hello World" example for QTI. The next step is to read the new Best Practice & Implementation Guide. While this is a lengthy document, it is well structured with a substantial set of clearly explained examples. All the examples are available as downloadable QTI Packages—they are a great starting point for creating your own QTI instances.

While QTI 3.0 is not backward compatible with QTI 2.x, migrating to 3.0 is not difficult. All the examples described in the QTI 2.x best practice documents and examples are covered with their equivalents in the 3.0 documentation. Much of the migration can be automated: our Contributing Member, ETS, has developed an XSLT-based simple migration tool, which is available for our Members in the GitHub Repo: This tool is NOT formally supported, nor is it fully featured. Instead, it is a starting point for migrating from QTI 2.x to 3.0.

Certification of compliant products is essential to the 1EdTech specification support process. We use a proprietary online XML validator for certification. Unlimited access to this validator is available to all members, and many extensively use this benefit as part of their content development validation process. The core QTI ASI XML Schema Definition (XSD) is 35,000 lines. All of the QTI XSDs (eight are used to validate a QTI Package) are available to the public as part of the Final Release documentation and are also available through our PURL server (https://purl/ Details for Certification are provided in the Conformance & Certification document.

My last blog covered the broader Digital Assessment in 1EdTech Ecosystems landscape. QTI is just one crucial part of this landscape. Now that the ASI component has been published, the next steps for QTI 3.0 are the completion and publication of:

  • QTI 3.0 Results Reporting

  • QTI 3.0 Usage Data & Item Statistics

  • Portable Custom Interaction (PCI) 1.0 – the definition of a JavaScript API that is used to connect proprietary Items, also commonly known as Technology Enhanced Items (TEIs), with a QTI-compliant assessment. This enables the set of predefined QTI interaction sets to be extended.

If you want to learn more about QTI, join us in Nashville from 13-16 June at Learning Impact 2022. We have several assessment activities, including a QTI Bootcamp/Hackathon, several presentations on various QTI and QTI-related specifications, and a Specification Surgery where you can have one-on-one sessions with the 1EdTech technical team. It is an excellent opportunity to meet the QTI experts. Hopefully, I'll see you in Nashville.


Published on 2022-06-07

PUBLISHED ON 2022-06-07

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Dr. Colin Smythe
Chief Architect
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