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Assessment Item Creation and Review

Creating Effective Assessments

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Creating questions and test items might seem easy on the surface, but a lot of thought must go into test creation to make it effective. Many times teachers test things that they never meant to assess. For example, a math teacher might have a question worded in such a way that language arts skills are being tested more than math skills. Multiple choice test item creation should be broken up into the following steps:

  • Goal of test items
  • Stem of each question
  • Responses for each question
  • Overall test construction

Goal of Test Items

Test items should:

  • Measure the required skill or information
  • Focus on important, not trivial, subject area content
  • Contain accurate information (including correct spelling)
  • Be written at an appropriate level of difficulty
  • Be clear and concise
  • Be bias free

Stem of Each Question

Stems should:

  • Provide sufficient information
  • Avoid extra information
  • Be grammatically correct
  • Avoid clues that help give away answers
  • Avoid negatives and absolutes
  • Avoid second person

Responses for Each Question

Responses should:

  • Be plausible
  • Be grammatically consistent with the stem
  • Be of approximately the same length
  • Be structurally parallel
  • Provide only one correct answer
  • Avoid all or none of the above
  • Incorrect answers called distractors should not be too obvious
  • Distractors should point out errors in thinking along the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy

Test Construction

Tests should:

  • Avoid similar items
  • Avoid items that help answer other items
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