Seven Things Assessment-Literate Educators Need to Do When Creating Quality Assessments
Not all assessments are created equal- some assessments even fail to accurately assess the content and skills they were supposedly designed for. It is important to be aware of this problem and to try and rectify it. Below are seven things that assessment-literate educators need to do when creating quality assessments.
Consider your reasons for testing
Are you testing for the purpose of modifying future instruction? Or are you testing in order to assess the content and skills mastery of your students? Depending on your reason for giving an assessment, the way you create your assessment is going to change.
Maintain consistency from classroom to homework to assessment
How often have we heard complaints from our students- or even from ourselves- that the test was much harder than the classwork and homework? When creating a quality assessment, it is important to maintain the same level of rigor throughout the unit. Of course, when you are first introducing the unit, you are going to be asking the students relatively simple questions based on the content.
However, by the time test day rolls around, your students should be familiar with the types of questions and rigor required on the exam. It’s not hard to see that an assessment requiring much critical thinking will not be passed by a majority of students if you have only been asking them simple recall questions during class.
Write questions based on the standards
Similarly, your assessment will not accurately determine the content mastery of your students if it is full of off-topic questions or questions that are not aligned with the state standards that you’ve been teaching your students. You may believe your students should know certain content that is not in the state standards- but your assessment should be based only on the state standards that are required or supplemental for the grade-level curriculum.
Write questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy
When writing questions to assess your students’ content knowledge on the state standards, make sure you are testing them at the correct Bloom’s Taxonomy level as well. For instance, if the state standards require your students to analyze data, you should not be giving them a question that only requires them to explain the data. Instead, your assessment question at the analysis level should be asking your students to compare and contrast certain aspects of the data, for instance, rather than merely explain it.
Design questions that can show a range of learning
If you only offer multiple choice questions on a test, chances are you will not be able to accurately evaluate the content mastery level of each of your learners. Instead, offer some test questions in which students are able to show a range of learning, and possibly offer partial credit for these types of questions.
Begin the test with the easiest questions
Many students suffer from test anxiety. To help alleviate this so that the test will be an accurate reflection of your students’ abilities, begin your test with most of the easier questions first to build the students’ confidence, and then put more challenging questions towards the end of the test. This way, you won’t have students stumped on the first page and then choosing to give up on the entire test.
Utilize your test data to make decisions in the classroom
There’s really no point in testing your students if you are not going to use the test data to make informed decisions about your classroom. Utilize this data to improve your teaching methods, individual instruction methods, and cater to the specific needs of each student.
All of these things may seem time-consuming, but keep in mind that taking the time to create a quality assessment that accurately tests the knowledge of your students will pay off later on.