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ACTIVITY 4-2: develop the assessments
1. Draft a Quiz
In light of the selected standard, what is
the “big idea” in the investigation? What are the specific
scientific concepts and terms that are included in it? Look at
the content standards of the examples and their investigations
[link to examples]; think about why the quiz item focused on
that aspect of the investigation.
The quiz should closely align with the
investigation. Think of it as a more formal paper and pencil
activity that asks learners to solve problems just like the ones
they were solving in the investigation. In the case of
computer-based investigations, visuals are often an effective
tool for making an activity-oriented quiz item.
The example from Weather
or Not? shows one useful format for the quiz item, a short
answer item followed by an open-ended item that asks for a
detailed explanation or rationale.
2. Draft a Quiz Answer Explanation
The answer explanation should explain how the
problem is solved but without directly stating the “correct”
answer. It should be written in a way that allows learners who
read it together to figure out what the correct answer should be
(see examples 1 and 2).
Such items can be written at a level somewhat
beyond the students’ grade level because students are often
highly motivated to find out about the correct answer. You may
include some technical terms and additional concepts that are
relevant to the topic but not necessarily needed to figure out
the correct answer.
At this stage quizzes and discussion
references are works in progress. The real test is whether or
not they support meaningful discourse and
argumentation when used by
the target learners.
3. Locate or Draft an Exam Item
Now locate or create more traditional items
that assess the concepts covered in the investigation. The links
below take you to released assessment items. Most released items
are in the public domain and can be used freely. Other sources
include test-prep booklets, textbooks, and textbook supplements.
The copyrighted items should be used following the fair usage
guidelines that usually accompany such materials.
Start with the links below and look at other
resources if you would like to search for items:
Look at the examples
and examine how the exam items closely align to the
investigation as well as the quiz item and answer explanation. A
learner who completes the investigation, takes the quiz item,
and makes sense of the answer explanation should be able to
answer the corresponding exam items.
4. Create an Exam Answer Explanation
While the exam’s primary purpose is grading,
formal remediation, and curricular refinement, it also can be
used to further advance learner understanding. Learners and
teachers should discuss each item using the answer explanation
after taking the exam. Unlike the quiz answer explanation, an
exam answer explanation should more clearly state the correct
answer (see, examples). It should also
explain why the correct answer is correct and why the wrong
answers are wrong. It then reveals the ways that high-stakes
tests exploit learner misconceptions and the nuances of domain
language to make “hard” items for “easy” concepts.
5. Assemble Test Items Aligned to the
This part of the process can be quite
difficult at first but gets easier once you become familiar with
the sources for test items. Your job is to locate at least five
items that are aligned to the targeted standard but not
necessarily the investigation.
The examples show items aligned to the
selected content standard [link to examples]. Examine how some
of the items are much more closely aligned with the
investigation than others. You must include such a range
of items in your pool and then randomly sample from that pool if
you wish to estimate the impact on externally developed
achievement tests. Ideally, the test should not be shown to the
teacher or learners. Just as with commercial tests, having a
pool of items allows evaluators to draw new items every year or
to create different forms of a pretest and a posttest.
Start with the sources listed above to search
for test items. Most likely, you will have to scour the various
sources to find items that appear aligned with the content
You are cautioned against developing your own
test items. Even experienced item writers find that their items
don’t work in the field. The advantage of released high-stakes
items is that the items have undergone a rigorous review process
that fixed or eliminated problematic items.
Deliverable 4-2: Three Levels of
three levels of
assessment outline and complete deliverable 4-2.
The following examples include multilevel
assessments developed for Weather or Not? and Operation
The following are standards-based assessment instruments
developed by previous Virtual Design Center participants:
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