Ch. 5 Selected Response Assessment

For the next few chapters, the book discusses each of the assessment methods individually and in-depth.  This chapter discusses how the selected response assessment method is to be used effectively.

The selected response is probably the most widely used method for standardized testing in the U.S. and in many countries.  It is a best-fit method for assessing knowledge and it’s a efficient for covering a broad content area.  It is effective in detecting students’ misconceptions and understandings.  Some examples of selected response would be multiple choice, true or false questions.

In chapter 4 the assessment development cycle was introduced.  This process is recommended for developing a selected response test (as with all assessment development):


1.  Determine the users

2.  Identify the learning targets

3.  Select appropriate method(s) – in this case we are looking selected response.

4.  Determine sample size (how many questions will we use)


1.  Develop/select items, exercises, tasks, and scoring procedures

2.  Review and critique the overall assessment for quality before use


1.  Conduct and score the assessment

2.  Revise as needed for future use.

Some important points from the chapter:

  • When determining the sample size, the learning time should match the sample size.  This seems very obvious but it is quite frequently overlooked.  If you’ve only spent two lessons on a content area, it should not take up half of the assessment.
  • Something that was very useful for me was the point of providing the students to show their own reasoning.  This was discussed in one of the previous chapters but it really resonated with me again.  The context for reasoning should differ from one they have been practicing, so that they can demonstrate their independent reasoning.  I think this concept alone is a long topic of discussion but an important one to point out.  I find this frustrating with my math curriculum.  Currently the curriculum that we are using has the students practise application of every concept learned.  So the students are constantly having to solve word problems, which is great practice.  But oftentimes I find that some of the students’ reasoning abilities are not up to the level of the curriculum.  So, when they are given an assessment, unless the word problems look very similar to their practice problems, they are unable to solve the problem.
  • When reviewing, ensure that the questions are assessing the learning objectives and will give me the information I need to assess student understanding.

Some pointers, when writing a selected response assessment:

  • The wording should be concise and to the point.  When writing the questions, we should aim for the lowest reading level possible.  This should be obvious but is often overlooked.  The students’ reading abilities should not be an impediment to their test-taking.
  • Sometimes, there are ‘hints’ given in the question, inadvertently.  (Although, this is something SAT teachers will encourage students to look for)  This should be avoided as it will eliminate an accurate assessment of the students’ content knowledge.
  • Critically overlooked words should be highlighted.  They should not be hiding in the sentence to ‘trick’ the students.  These will be words like:  not, most, least etc.
  • Avoid ‘all of the above,’ or ‘none’ as a choice.
  • The choices should be similar in length.
  • Begin with easier items.


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