p.161 #1: If you were asked to take part in a mini-debate about the respective virtues of selected-response items versus constructed-response items, what do you think would be your major points if you were supporting the use of selected-response test items?
The major selling points of selected-response items is that when they are well crafted (no ambiguous statements, clear directions, no unintended clues, clear syntax, and appropriate vocabulary) they can quickly assess a student’s comprehension of the content and there is no risk of biased grading due to who the student is. Selected-response questions aren’t limited to just the basic multiple choice or true false, they can also use clusters of binary-choice (a stem statement with that the following questions refer to, typically true/false). The important thing with creating any selected response questions it to create the questions with intention so that students actually have to think in order to do well, not just guess.
p.161 #3: Why do you think that multiple-choice tests have been so widely used in nationally standardized norm-referenced achievement tests during the past half-century?
Multiple-choice tests are so widely used in standardized test nationwide because they are cost effective. Scantron machines can grade them in a relatively quick amount of time (or computer ones now, like the GRE, are graded instantly), there is no deciphering of someone’s hand writing or what they meant to say, the answer choose is either right or wrong (there’s no “well sort of” when grading), and, when written well, assess a student’s ability to recognize the most correct answer from a group of potential answers. However, as noted in the text, they are limited in that they only assesses a student’s ability to spot the correct answers; they don’t have to generate it, which is why more and more standardized tests are including easy and short answer portions to them.
p.185 #1: What do you think has been the instructional impact, if any, of the widespread incorporation of student writing samples in the high-stakes educational achievement tests used in numerous states?
I think more teachers are emphasizing, or will be, the importance of good writing (clear, concise, engaging, etc.) regardless of subject area. Often times people think writing is something they only do in English or History, but being able to communicate clearly through a written medium is a skill that all students will need in their futures, especially in this digital age where many first communications when job searching or making contracts is through email rather than in person or over the phone. With high-stakes test placing more emphasis on writing, the focus will shift from teaching students how to to recognize the content in a selected-response assessment to also being proficient at being able to construct their own answers of the material.
p.185 #3: What do you see as the major weaknesses of short-answer and essay items? What are their major strengths?
The major weaknesses of constructed-response questions is the fact that the answers can vary significantly but all still be correct. This makes grade of the responses more subjective than objective. There is also greater possibility of misinterpreting the questions, because the students don’t have the answer options there to help them figure out what the question is asking (although, if it is written well, this shouldn’t be a problem). It is also typically more difficult for some ELL and disabled students to complete short answer or essay questions. The main strength of constructed-response questions is the same as its major weakness. Students are able to use their knowledge and experiences to provide a complete answer that could be correct but follows a different pathway to get there than someone else/the test writer. This allows each student to show their strength of knowledge with the content without being limited to the ideas/answers of the test creator.