Reflection: Standards Alignment Unit Assessment - Section 2: Assessment Creation


In the context of assessment design, considering the two questions in the title of this reflection is of utmost importance. Frankly, a well designed assessment has careful thought put into both questions, namely:

  • How many questions per standard? Or, in the case of unit assessments with too many standards given an appropriate amount of time to test, which standards are to be assessed?
  • What is an appropriate level of rigor to match the assessment items?

In effect, I think assessments in the context of a Regents course should be two things: (1) predictive, and (2) useful. On being predictive, what I mean is that students shouldn't be performing at a certain level on all of your unit assessments and then go in and bomb the Regents examination (also, the converse shouldn't be the case either!). It's important that your assessments in some way, shape, or form mirror the Regents, or summative end-of-year assessment in as many facets as possible. For example, I even go as far as to set time limits. If you have 3 hours to do 85 questions, that means you have about 2 minutes and 07 seconds per question. So when I design assessments, we try to mirror that time limit. Additionally, in the context of multiple-choice vs. free-response questions, the Regents has 35/85, or roughly 41% of the questions as free-response. Likewise, we try to emulate that ratio. 

However, in the context of rigor, it's important to think about the question as a whole. Don't fall into the trap of "all MC questions are easy" and "all FR questions are more difficult." Assessing the relative rigor of a question requires deep seeded content knowledge and a knack for knowing your students. Generally, the Regents, just like most other state-given assessments, are normed in the sense that they have specific ratios of easy, medium, and hard questions. I try to go through my assessments and make about half medium, and split the difference the rest of the way between easy and hard questions. I feel that matches the Regents in color and intensity, and provides quite a bit of predictive value to my assessments.

Similarly, in terms of the actual standards and assessment items that bear the most weight, a lot of it just comes from experience. For example, in thinking about Earth's surface, glaciers are not a relatively large area of concern in terms of the Regents/end-of-year exam. If they are, they're usually posed as a quick identifying multiple choice question, or in the context of a free-response question that has images and text to help re-activate student knowledge. It simply isn't worth it to spend 4-5 days hammering home the points about moraines, outwash plains, and kettle lakes, simply because of its lack of frequency on the actual exam. If you're new to the course, my best advice is to look through as many previous exams as possible, especially the more recent ones. You'll see trends and question types emerge - use that to guide your assessment design (and your instruction)!

  How Many Questions? What about Rigor?
  Standards Alignment: How Many Questions? What about Rigor?
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Unit Assessment

Unit 7: Landscapes & Mapping
Lesson 8 of 8

Objective: SWBAT complete the Unit VII assessment | (Note: This lesson also features information and resources on how I create, administer, and analyze the actual test)

Big Idea: In this lesson, I give an overview on how I plan for, implement, and analyze assessment data from my class. We start with assessment creation - how do you (or where do you) come up with questions, and how do you organize them to make a cohesive assessment?

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