SmarterAssessments™

Best Practices

Guidelines to Promote Validity and Reliability in Traditional Assessment Items

Matching Items

Directions refer to specific headings and address “extra response.”

Right column “answers” listed in alphabetical/ numerical order.

Specify point value for each response.

Right column contains one more item than left.

Only one accurate response to the question.

The elements in each column are homogeneous.

Items clearly indicate the desired response.

Each column has at least 7 elements, and neither has more than 10 elements.

Answers are placed on specified location (no lines).

Item strongly aligns with learning target(s).

Column headings are specific and descriptive.

No writing/grammar/spelling errors.

Fill-in-the-Blank Items

Point value is specified for each blank.

Missing information is limited to 1–2 words.

Item clearly indicates the desired response.

Item strongly aligns with learning target(s).

There is only one accurate response to the question.

No writing/grammar/spelling errors.

Multiple-Choice Questions

Point value is specified for each response.

Options do not include “all of the above” and “none of the above.”

Stem is written in the form of a question.

All answer options are of similar length.

Question clearly indicates the desired response.

Item strongly aligns with learning target(s).

There is only one accurate response to the question.

No writing/grammar/spelling errors.

Four plausible options are provided.

 

Short-Answer Questions

Point value is specified for each response.

There are multiple correct responses.

Application and higher-order questions are included.

Item strongly aligns with learning target(s).

Question clearly indicates the desired response.

No writing/grammar/spelling errors.

Item asks for 3–5 distinct elements only.

 

Essay Questions

Essay question is clear and includes multiple components.

No lists of factual pieces of information.

Rubric is used and point value is specified for each component.

Item strongly aligns with learning target(s).

Focuses on higher-order critical thinking.

No writing/grammar/spelling errors.

No “right” answer; multiple possible responses.

 

Source: Association for Middle Level Education.  Retrieved August 28, 2017.