Monday, November 19, 2012

Tips for Effective Test Reviews

ATI provides districts the opportunity to review district created assessments. This process can be an easy and a  valuable tool to ensure that assessments suit specific district and student needs.  Listed below are tips for effective test reviews.

1)      Keep the purpose of the assessment in mind.

There are numerous purposes for assessments.  The purpose of the assessment should dictate the review.  Look at an example from the kindergarten Common Core math standards.

 ·         K.OA.2 Solve addition and subtraction word problems.   

 If the purpose of the benchmark is to test instruction, the items on the assessment should match the district approved pacing guide.  If the pacing guide states that only addition will be taught during the first quarter then only items for addition should be included in the first quarter assessment. 

 On the other hand, if the purpose of the assessment is summative, the entire range of the standard should be assessed.
2)      Trust the data.

 ATI provides parameters estimates on items for test reviews.  The parameters provide information related to the discrimination, difficulty, and guessing  for each item. Since ATI analyzes item performance based on thousands of students,  the data can provide an objective view of an item and how it is likely to function on the district assessment.

3)      Consider the bigger picture.

Every teacher teaches concepts using favorite vocabulary and language. For this reason, reviewers approach item review expecting to see specific target words on items or wanting to see questions asked in specific formats.  Keep in mind that the target words may change as the tests and teaching methodologies vary over time.  The bigger picture for students is that they are able to perform the skill and demonstrate knowledge no matter how the item is presented on the high stakes assessments.  This is going to be especially important as the traditional state tests transition into the new common assessments created by the consortiums SMARTTER and PARCC. As vocabulary and item formats change, it will be beneficial for students to have been exposed to multiple formats for testing specific standards. Consider keeping an item on an assessment even if it contains new or different vocabulary and allowing students to gain valuable experience in test taking and at the same time expand their knowledge. Reviewers may be surprised at how adaptable students really are.

4)      Allow the students the opportunity to excel.

One trap districts fall into is creating assessments that are too easy.  If assessments are too easy, there is no way for the data to show growth from one test to the next.  In addition, if all students receive 100 percent on the assessment, the data  will not provide information about how to help students get to the next level. Avoiding this pitfall is relatively easy.  Reviewers should make sure that items having a full range of difficulty are included on the assessment. 


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