I’ve been writing my own assessments for a while, and I’ve come to find that I actually enjoy it!
I truly believe that armed with your state standards, a good computer, and a desire to see your students achieve at a high level…anyone can write a good assessment.
Here are some things that I use to help me be my best when writing a test for my own kids.
Every test that I create is based on this model. One part of the test is comprised of questions that will force my students to reach. It could be some above grade level questions, or even questions that require practical application of the fullness of the grade level standard early in the year. Two parts of my test is on grade level content. What ALL on grade level students should be able to approach at THIS TIME of the year. The last part is easy questions…things that are below grade level, or a low level of complexity. You could also think of this as 25% high complexity, 50% on grade level content, and 25% low complexity questions.
Only give enough questions to know for sure that your students grasp the content.
I am not big on long tests assessments at all. If I can find out what I need with four questions, why do I need ten? It stresses out the kids and makes my grading on the back end that much longer. I’d rather four or five quality questions, than a really long test with a majority of softball questions. I like to grade with rubrics a lot. I use them in math and writing a ton. There are so many ways that they can work to streamline the grading process and help students and parents understand specifically what students need help or enrichment with. I also love the fact that creating a rubric for lessons helps me to examine my overarching goals for my students against the fullness of the standards.
Create tests that help you drive your instruction.
When you are creating an assessment…it should be for the purpose of giving you more specific information about your own practice and how your instruction is helping your students make the gains you want them to make. When you’re just starting out, I advocate creating a spreadsheet to mark how many of each question students miss. If your whole class misses question 5 out of 10, was that something you could have taught with more fidelity? Was the question too tricky? Was it ambiguous? Show the kids the data. Ask them what trends they see. Ask them what they were thinking. The kids LOVE to participate in this type of discussion. You’ll be surprised at how insightful they are about their own understanding! It’s pretty precious! 😉
Seek out colleagues for a different perspective.
I have some great colleagues that I turn to to help me with perspective on assessments. It helps to hear from other teachers how they perceive the same tool. After sharing the first draft of my first grade reading assessments with a colleague, she mentioned that the passages should be broken up into chunks and pictures should go with each paragraph. I changed that and it really made a difference in my students’ achievement! A bloggy buddy of mine asked me to add a page with frequently used words to support her ELL and ESE students. I did that…and it made a big difference for her kiddos! Getting constructive critiques from peers has ALWAYS made me better, and I am so grateful for it!
I hope that these tips have made assessment writing a bit more approachable to you! 🙂 If you are still not feeling confident, or are currently experiencing too many demands on your time and would prefer to use some assessments that are already created, consider taking a look at some of these that I’ve created for different subjects in my first grade classroom.
|Click HERE to see my Math Assessments for First Grade|
|Click HERE to see my Phonics/Spelling/Phonemic Awareness Assessments for First Grade|
|Click HERE to see my Reading Assessments for First Grade|