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Main | Activity 4-1 | Activity 4-2  | Activity 4-3

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 Standard
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 standard.

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 Assessment

Download the three levels of assessment outline and complete deliverable 4-2.

The following examples include multilevel assessments developed for Weather or Not? and Operation Montserrat:

The following are standards-based assessment instruments developed by previous Virtual Design Center participants:

Continue to Activity 4-3.

Main | Activity 4-1 | Activity 4-2  | Activity 4-3


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