Writing Better Assessments

According to Batelle for Kids, teachers spend 25% to 33% of their time on activities related to assessment.

To improve the product of this time, Batelle provided a professional development opportunity in conjunction with ODE for learning how to write better assessments.  Here are some take-away items I learned from the PD:

Better multiple choice questions can be written by avoiding the following:

  • “NOT” or “EXCEPT” options
  • Incomplete question stems that create repetition in the answer options
  • “Cuing stems” (the use of articles or pronouns that give clues to the answer)
  • Phrases repeated in each answer option
  • Answer options that are not “plausible” (can be avoided through process of elimination)
  • Answer options that are of varied lengths (avoid students choosing the “longest answer”)
  • Answer options that are not similar to one another
  • “NONE OF THE ABOVE” or “ALL OF THE ABOVE” options
  • Too many of the same answer options (the use of “B” as the answer for a majority of questions)
  • Direct replication of content from instruction (which encourages rote memorization)

Good multiple choice options should:

  • Have at least 4 and up to 5 answer options
  • Include plausible answers
  • Include options based on students misunderstandings or faulty logic about a topic
  • Be similar in length and require “discrete discrimination” on the part of the student
  • Present opportunities for critical thinking

Good constructed response questions should:

  • Not provide multiple answer prompt options to test understanding of the same content

Good performance tasks should provide:

  • Multiple and  strategic steps, stages or processes to complete
  • Data for multiple learning objectives that make the time investment worthwhile
  • The opportunity to approach the task in a variety of means
  • Opportunities for revision
  • Opportunities for reflection

Good rubrics should:

  • NOT include elements unrelated to task mastery (such as elements of effort or aesthetic qualities)
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