Monday, July 3, 2017

How I Create My Unit Tests

Since my school is so focused on our end of the year state exams (the New York State regents exams), I incorporate regents questions into my assessment and instruction as much as possible.  There are pros and cons to this approach, but that is a post for another time.

My tests are created 100% from past regents exam questions that pertain to the unit.  On the regents, students have 3 hours to earn 86 points.  That equates to approximately 21 points in our 42 minute class period.  So, I make all of my unit tests out of 20 points because questions are worth either 2, 4, or 6 points.  Tests that sum to 20 points are also insanely easy to convert to a 100 point scale.

Side note:  For the first time this year, my students complained about the length of the tests.  They insisted that they would perform better if the tests were longer.  However, during every test I had at least one student that worked the entire class period.  For those students, making the test longer would have been an issue.  Since my test length is scaled to the length of the regents, I can easily justify not giving students any more time - they won't get any extra time on the regents.  I do allow students a minute or two to finish a test question after the bell to make up for the time spent passing out the test at the beginning of class just to be fair.

Every unit is different as to how the questions are broken down into their parts.  Part I is multiple choice worth 2 points, Part II is short answer worth 2 points, Part III is short answer worth 4 points, and Part IV is short answer worth 6 points.  I sequence my parts in numerical order.  There are always questions for Part I, but if there are no questions for Part II I will skip it and go to Part III.

After every regents I go through the questions and determine in which unit the questions belong.  Last month, I sorted the questions into documents in Problem-Attic, one document for each unit.  I even went through the trouble of sequencing the questions as we would get to them throughout the unit.  When I go to make my unit tests (a goal I have for August), I go through the questions in the document and select questions for the test and retest.

When I create my tests, I use a template that I created to mimic the format of the regents exam.  I use almost the same directions and add a margin approximately 2 inches wide on the right side for students to do work on multiple choice questions.  What I do differently is that in the multiple choice section, I add a space before each number for students to write in their answer choice.  This makes the section easier to grade.  Also, I conserve as much space as possible so that my test copies are not outrageous.

You can follow the link here to download the test template I use if you're a New York State teacher and want to use a format for your test similar to the regents.  The multiple choice is organized by tables.  Make sure you hide all borders before printing.

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