What percentage of your tests do you change each year?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by TrademarkTer, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Sep 30, 2018

    I was just putting finishing touches on our first big unit test that I am administering this year.

    It would be really nice if we could just use the same test year after year, but unfortunately board policy dictates that we must return tests for students to keep. Additionally since all teachers of the same course give the same assessments, the tests are typically taken and returned to at least 300 students for mosts courses. I work in a high-performing districts, and there are definitely some students I suspect would try and find previous tests from siblings or older friends. Given this, we need to change some things each year. I never completely start from scratch. Since it's math, I often just change numbers, but some problems are much harder to change (for example, this first test we have a really nice matching section with graphs that would be really hard to change). I would say by the end I generally change between 40-75% of any given test.

    What do you do? Just print the same test? Start from scratch? Somewhere in between like me? Maybe you work in district that lets you hang on to tests.
     
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  3. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    I do somewhere in between, I think starting from scratch is an inefficient use of my time. I change some questions, because sometimes i find “better” questions that address the standard more fully, or the standard has changed and some questions have to be removed and added to reflect that, or sometimes, I just change things, because marking the same stuff year in and year out is boring.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  4. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    The only thing I usually change are the bonus questions which are completely off topic and random anyways. The actual test itself is just the review questions out of the book.
     
  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Sep 30, 2018

    I do somewhere in between. For my math classes, I utilize a template for the problem on the master copy and then I use a random number generator to help me make different versions of each test. With clarification, I cycle my tests and versions every year, so I use versions A and B in one year, and versions C and D in the next. Then in the “third” year, I will use versions A and C and versions B and D in year “four”. And then B and C and A and D. And each year over the summer, I make different variations of each version (A’, B’, C’, and D’), so I may not necessarily use A but A’ instead.

    With time, I add problems or take away problems, so even if a student saved my old copy and gave it to their peers it wouldn’t do them any good as no two problems are the same on any one version for a specific unit test. For example, take my AP Calc BC class, question 1 on version “A” might have a student find the volume by revolving a disk about the x-axis (with a different numerical answer) and question 1 on version “B” might have a student find the volume by revolving a washer about the y-axis (so the same type of problem, also with a different numerical answer). Or I may ask an area problem on one (using polar coordinates, for instance) and a volume by cross sections one on another.

    To make it easier for me, I use a grided matrix to outline each test and then I write in the different ways I can ask each type of problem, in chronological order. The matrix is what I use to formulate each test. To demonstrate, question 4 might have a cell that has a student evaluate a limit and the options are “Solve by: 1) using a trigonometric identity, 2) l'Hopital's Rule, 3) plug and chug, 4) using long division to convert from an indeterminate to a determinate form, 5) factoring using the ‘Factoring by Grouping Method’ and then canceling the common binomial factor, etc.” Then, I just copy and paste the “skeleton of the problem,” so the limit part from the Master Copy, and finish up by adjusting the numbers as needed. Doing this makes making exams so easy.

    I actually have a lot of fun making tests and quizzes this way. It really helps structure my thinking by using the matrix.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  6. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    I'm sorry... I mean you do you, but that is WAY too much effort for me.
     
  7. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Sep 30, 2018

    My essay tests I usually don't change at all. I usually give them the prompt before the test anyways. Other tests it just depends. Some I don't change much and others I change a lot.
     
  8. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    We use common assessments, and we only change things from year to year if we need to change something that didn’t work or change a format. It would be hard for a kid to know which test was which, though, because our pacing may be different each year. For instance, quiz 1-5 from this year was quiz 3-4 last year.
     
  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    That’s okay! I was just showing you how *I* have streamlined making my math exams, lol. It sounds like a lot of work, but I mapped out the matrix in my first year. I very rarely ever alter it, so everything is pretty much done. It now literally takes 5-10 minutes to make “new” exams as I just cut, copy, and adjust as needed.

    I actually lol’d when I found out a student at my school procured an old copy of my exam from a past student. He was certain that it was going to help him get an easy A. But instead of penalizing the student, I used that as an opportunity to teach him a lesson, so I asked him how having the old worked out for him. He grumbled that it didn’t help him very much at all — it basically was another practice test. To which I smirked and said, “Exactly. If you wanted another practice test, you could’ve just asked.” He was quite irritated, lol! It was hysterical and in the end we were both laughing. It was great!
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018

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