Assessment items vary in format: multiple-choice, short answer or extended response, and vary in level of complexity from low to moderate to high. The Ohio Department of Education provides test blueprints for the OATs (Ohio Achievement Test) and the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) which contain information about each grade level/subject area test, including the number of test items, the number of points for each test item, and details about determining the level of complexity of test items. The blueprints can be accessed directly from the ODE website using this link: http://www.ode.state.oh.us/GD/Templates/Pages/ODE/ODEDetail.aspx?page=3&TopicRelationID=285&ContentID=7805&Content=69266.
Teachers face the difficult task of constructing test items that reflect the learning to be measured, that meet the criteria of a well-constructed test item (equity, language, structure, rigor, validity, relevance of answer choices, etc.), and that provide important feedback to inform instruction. It isn’t easy to construct high quality test items, especially items that provide for a high level of complexity and rigor.
Testing companies invest millions of dollars in test item development and field testing, so why not use available items when you can? Many states provide released items on their websites (as does Ohio on the SUCCESS portal at http://portal.success-ode-state-oh-us.info/), but it is a tedious task to find the items and format them for use with students. Also, all states do not have the exact same skill expectations outlined in benchmarks and indicators at every grade level, so an item that is earmarked for 8th graders in one state may not be aligned to our 8th grade standards in Ohio. Alignment is critical to consider when selecting assessment items in order to maintain the rigor of instruction the Ohio standards demand.
While working with teachers in the region, the SMART Consortium staff members heard this loud and clear. To be more effective teachers want easy access to assessment items that can be used in short cycle assessments. In response to that need, we have started to compile banks of test items. The first sets of science items are available on our website in Excel spreadsheet format:
EXCEL SPREADSHEET – by standard and grade level
o You can access items for a specific grade level and standard to meet your assessment needs - such as “8th grade Physical Science”.
o Each question bank spreadsheet includes test items, an indication of the alignment of the item to Ohio Benchmarks, alignment to the appropriate Ohio Grade Level Indicator(s), the answer if it is a multiple choice question, the state that released the item, and a brief description of the skill the item addresses. The “skill” drills down to the core of an item to make it easier for a teacher to be very selective in reviewing test items.
o Test banks are accessible in “READ ONLY” format and require a password to access. This password is sent to your school district superintendent and curriculum director after your school districts' annual membership is confirmed. Click on the test bank link you want to view, and then save it to your desktop. Enter the password and open the spreadsheet for use.
o The spreadsheet allows you to “sort” the items by skill, by benchmark, by indicator or by state. You can manipulate each spreadsheet to meet your needs. To sort, simply click on the column you are interested in sorting by, then go to the toolbar of the spreadsheet and click on the “A/Z ↑” or “A/Z↓” to sort in ascending or descending order.
o Once you identify an item you would like to use, right click on the actual test item, click on “copy” and “paste” it into your own word document.
In addition to short cycle assessment, teachers can also use released test items to plan for instruction, for review and to prepare students for the OATs. Using items in this manner allows students to “experience” the format of the OAT, practice items that have been on previous tests, and review their understanding of the concepts to be tested. The OATs and the OGT are aligned to Ohio benchmarks, so you should keep this in mind when selecting items for review. Our question banks specify a skill for each item, but also align each item to the appropriate benchmark for the grade band.
The banks of questions are a work in progress. We will continue to add aligned items as we find them. Some states had not yet released items from their 2009 test administration as of August 1, 2009.
This was a monumental task for the SMART Consortium staff, but we are committed to providing you and the rest of our Consortium members with this type of support. We’d love to hear from you as you use these items. If you find any errors in alignment, in the answers, or any other information as you work with the items we have included in the banks of questions, please email me with your thoughts (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your suggestions and comments are welcomed and encouraged. We’d love to hear from you.
Have a great school year! Remember we are here for you!