The Ideal Test Format...

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Brendan, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jan 10, 2011

    How do you format your tests and quizzes for your class? I'm curious as to how everyone chooses to do so (especially History Teachers between different levels).

    For my classes....

    Honors:
    Quizzes: 10 questions total. 2 or 3 multiple choice, the rest are short answer and/or identifications with primary sources in the mix.
    Tests: AP Style Multiple Choice (30 or so) and 4 (large paragraph length) short answers.

    AP:
    Quizzes: 15 Questions Total. 7-8 AP style multiple choice, the rest are a mix of short answer and identifications.
    Tests: 35 Minute Essay (Choose 1 of 3 unannounced topics) and 30 multiple choice.

    CP:
    Quizzes: 5 fill-in the banks (with a word bank, but with some extra words), 5 multiple choice, and then one short answer.
    Tests: 10 fill-ins, 15 multiple choice, 10 true/false, 10 matching, and three-four short answers (a few sentences each).

    As you an see my honors kids have much more writing, but I throw in multiple choice to prepare them for AP. My non-AP students write an in-class essay for each unit as part of a department wide program.
     
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  3. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Jan 10, 2011

    It varies, but for my regular level history courses, unit tests are:
    20-25 multiple choice
    20 - vocabulary matching
    10 - short answer

    For my AP course:
    20-25 multiple choice
    10 fill in the blank, no word bank
    DBQ essay or free response essay
     
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jan 10, 2011

    For your regular level courses, how in-depth are the short answers?
     
  5. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    It varies. For my freshman, fairly simple.... a sample question is here: Can Alexander truly be considered “great”? Use complete sentences and defend your opinion. Be sure to discuss his actions, and whether or not they are positive or negative.

    For my sophomores, we go a bit more challenging: Discuss the main ideas of the Enlightenment philosophes. You must reference at least five different thinkers, and what their main ideas were. In addition, discuss the impact of at least three of these people on the world today.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2011

    I don't have a single format; it depends totally on the material I've taught.

    Friday's geometry test will be:
    -9 five point questions on proportions in similar triangles

    -5 two point questions on how to use the calculator (today is the first day the sophs have used a scientific calculator, so we're spending at least a day-- depending on snow--on just how to use it.)

    - 1 25 point question: altitude to the hypotenuse that turns out to be a quadratic

    1 20 point question: finding sides of similar trianges, turns out to be a quadratic.

    Friday is the winter pep rally(oh, JOY!!) so periods are down to 29 minutes.

    Probably the ONLY constant about my test format is that, aside from trimester or final exams, I do not ever use a scantron.

    Oh, and you didn't ask, but all our tests are required to be typed.

    Quizzes are less formal. Yesterday's geometry quiz was a similar triangle problem just like the 20 point one on Friday's test; my Algebra quiz was a single quadratic verbal problem.
     
  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Jan 11, 2011

    I teach a general level elective (Speech) so I make quizzes and tests a combo of matching, multiple choice, true-false, fill in the blank, and short answer.

    My other elective (film studies) is taught at both the general and enriched level. Those assessments are almost all short answer and essay. Since both courses are taught in the same class at the same time (not my choice, but the way they are doing it...) I give everyone the same test, but the enriched students have an extra part that is more involved.
     
  8. G00d d00bie

    G00d d00bie Rookie

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    Jan 15, 2011

    For classes with low writing skills, for years I would ask a series of leading multiple.choice questions, followed by an essay question that relates to the multiple.choice questions. The essay would be worth as many points as all of previously related the m.c. Sometimes the student could almost copy some of the choices for examples and counterexamples. I always wondered if I should do it this way, but I noticed the state tests started being written this way. I thought I invented this method myself, but maybe I picked it up kind of subconsciously from some predecessor or text or something or someone.
    Anyway, to continue, I would ask two separate types of scientific methods that yeild the same result with their separate mc questions and subsequent essay. Then I would ask a third essay in which they would attempt to show the unification of the two methods. (Often in math and science the emphasis is in trying to see the equivalence of methods.) This third essay would have none of its own preceding mc questions.
    For students with low writing skills, I felt I had to give them this stepping stone.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  9. Soccer Dad

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    Jan 18, 2011

    It depends on how much time I'm looking to spend (or rather, not spend) quizzing and testing.

    Typically, quizzes are weekly and are primarily announced ahead of time. They cover anything in the notes and homework. I don't quiz the textbook reading, just the homework questions I gave. So...

    If time permits: full period quiz = 10 short answer questions, student chooses 5-7 to write about. This is both for Regents and Honors. Example: "Why is Greece considered a 'classical civilization?' Provide specific examples to supplement your explanation." (This is an easy gimme questions... figure it's worth about 5 points.) Then, there's the critical questions: "How did the Mycenaeans build their culture on previous civilizations from around the Mediterranean region? In what ways was their civilization limited? Identify at least one other civilization we've studied that shared this same limitation." (This question is worth almost a full 10 points.)

    If I'm short on time, it's a simple 10-20 question multiple choice quiz. And yes, my Regents kids as well as my Honors kids have 5 choice m.c. questions. (I'm just that mean!)

    Tests follow a simple format: 50-60 multiple choice questions with five choices for both classes. (For Regents, half the test comes from old Regents exams so it only has 4 choices; however, the remaining half are of my own creation and have 5 choices.)

    Either the next day in class or at home (depending on time), students write an essay on the topic.

    ______________

    Sometimes, depending on my patience (are they doing their homework that month?), I will assign a take-home quiz that makes them take positions. I ask things like, "In your opinion, was the Civil War inevitable? Why or why not?" This is a question that would normally be answered as a class, but if homework isn't being done, it becomes a take-home quiz.
     
  10. Soccer Dad

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    Jan 18, 2011

    Oh, I forgot to add that I NEVER give true or false questions. Sorry, I don't see how they test for anything valuable. I place such a greater emphasis on being able to write, argue and discuss than on "Oh, here's a specific fact from the unit, do you remember if it's true or if it's made up or slightly altered?"

    I will give identification quizzes SOMETIMES in my U.S. History class to test vocabulary. I really only give them to reward my students that diligently do their homework and need an easy a.
     
  11. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2011

    Pop quizzes are short, because we have other things to do. So they usually consist of 4 or 5 questions of differing formats. Every time the format is different, as well. So sometimes there are 4 short answer questions, sometimes you have to connect thinkers to their ideas, sometimes you have to place events in order, sometimes you have to interpret a cartoon, sometimes you have to identify a portrait...it depends on what we've been doing.

    Mid-term exams are always IDs plus an essay. They write 2 IDs (out of 6 choices), each about half a blue book page long. They have 3 essay questions and choose one, then write an essay that uses readings, films, and debates as evidence.

    Final exams here are almost two hours long. So they write 2 essays and 4 IDs. The IDs for the final are available in a long list in advance (so they prep them all, then answer the ones they know best from the available choices). The essays are in categories. So I might ask them to write one essay from a set of choices related to gender, but the other essay comes from a set of choices that focus on economics. It depends on what we've been studying, of course, what those categories will be.

    My AP students take multiple-choice quizzes every two weeks, pop quizzes with MC questions from AP, and write essays in class as well (they alternate weeks - one week MC, then the next week an FRQ or DBQ). Mid-terms are FRQ's, Final exams are DBQ's. In the fall I let them have the documents the day before, but in winter they must attack the question cold.
     
  12. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jan 19, 2011

    What about performance-based assessments? Does anyone use those?
     
  13. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2011

    Yes, all the time. But the original question was about tests and quizzes.

    I do debates, projects, discussions, activities, and a research paper (with in-class components). All of those allow for assessment that is not entirely written or text-based.

    Or did you mean performance in the sense of the arts? I don't think I'm qualified to grade things like dance, art, etc. So although I know of people who allow students to create art projects, I don't do that.
     
  14. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jan 19, 2011

    No, I meant performance just as in your examples. I consider those as tests, since I use them as such. I find they give a more accurate demonstration of student mastery than traditional tests.
     
  15. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Jan 20, 2011

    As a matter of fact, I use some of my labs as assessments, especially when students must devise their own procedure. My honors physics class is going to analyze aspects of a car accident, determine who is at fault and write a forensic opinion.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 20, 2011

    As a math teacher, I'm not a fan of a lot of those other assessments.

    I don't count class participation, since it's entirely possible to know everything that's going on, and still be shy.

    I seldom give projects. They may assess what you're able to look up, or how well you write, but seldom assess how well you've mastered the material we've covered.

    If I'm teaching a geometry unit on Trig, then I need to know whether you can solve problems using Trig. I quiz it, and I test it. If you can demonstrate that ability, then I can conclude that you know the Trig I've taught.
     
  17. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Jan 20, 2011

    Yes! These are mostly what I do! In film studies, it may involve using a flip camera to record something framed a certain way, or drawing something a certain way. Also, I'll show a scene from a movie and have them do a quick write analyzing one aspect of it.

    In speech, most of what I do is performance assessment. Literally, I'm assessing their performance when they give speeches.
     
  18. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jan 20, 2011

    I really like offering students discussion and debate points, but I still use quizzes and tests. My students are *very* concerned with being prepared for college. So they want a variety of testing methods so that they feel (and are) prepared for their college experience.

    Since college courses in history routinely use tests, papers, and quizzes, I make sure my students have a lot of experiences with that kind of work.

    But college courses have graded discussions, debates, and presentations too. So I think they're all important.

    I admit I'm pretty much in Alice's corner on testing. In history, the ability to discuss the narrative is important, but written competency is central to what we do. I guess maybe I'm old-fashioned, but since I study history that's ok, right?
     
  19. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jan 20, 2011

    I use traditional tests and quizzes as well, but they do not make up the majority of my assessment methods. I find that they look for memory and lower-level thinking.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 20, 2011

    I think it depends on what you ask.
     
  21. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jan 20, 2011

    I think in math it is just as possible to do performance-based assessments, but I agree that traditional tests and quizzes have its place in math as well. As for performance assessments, for example, my students can learn about tools to measure capacity, but can they actually use it to follow a simple recipe? In fact, that's what they will be doing next week.
     
  22. Soccer Dad

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    Jan 21, 2011

    It definitely depends on what you're asking and what you want from them. If you ask, "Who was Charlemagne?" then yes, that's a VERY low-level question as it's pure recall and regurgitate.

    However, if you ask a short-answer like "Compare and contrast the effects of geography on Greece with that of ONE civilization studied in the Middle East. In your answer, make sure you address the impact of geography on religion, society, the economy, and overall daily life," I think you're testing critical thinking and causing them to write and explain their ideas, which is my ultimate goal as a history teacher.
     
  23. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Jan 21, 2011

    In addition to the well-worded essay questions, there are MC questions that demand higher level thinking such as the ever dreaded "all of the following, EXCEPT" questions. Students typically hate those questions because it does require higher level thinking to correctly answer the question.
     
  24. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jan 21, 2011

    Yes, INTeacher, my students hatehatehate those. And they *really* hate the AP questions that ask you to choose "I, IV, and V" or "I, II, and V" etc.

    But I'm with Soccer Dad. In a high school history classroom questions test your ability to take the material and interpret it. Given that we grapple with very complex issues (such as the ethical implications of monopolies or the relationship between rhetoric about liberty and the reality of slavery), essay tests require much more than content mastery.
     
  25. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Jan 21, 2011

    KPar, it would be a close vote with my AP students on which ones they hate the most between those two types :D

    My AP students would rather write the DBQ and FRQ than answers those MC questions :lol:

    BTW - I love :love: your user name.
     
  26. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jan 21, 2011

    Yes, thank goodness I survived my third husband. He was a little scary.

    My AP students are currently writing an FRQ. I think if you asked them right now, they'd prefer to answer MC questions. But any other time? They'd rather write. They really hate those MC questions, and I do, too.
     

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