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Developing Great Social Studies Test Items. Nancy Hester, RESC XIII You should attempt to write these types of items to include on every test:. Lower Level Easy (LLE) Lower Level Difficult (LLD) Higher Level Easy (HLE) Higher Level Difficult (HLD).

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Developing Great Social Studies Test Items

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Developing great social studies test items

Developing Great Social Studies Test Items

Nancy Hester, RESC XIII

You should attempt to write these types of items to include on every test

You should attempt to write these types of items to include on every test:

  • Lower Level Easy (LLE)

  • Lower Level Difficult (LLD)

  • Higher Level Easy (HLE)

  • Higher Level Difficult (HLD)

United states history lle

United States History - LLE

  • The policy of acquiring colonies and building empires is known as:

    • A. Isolationism

    • B. Industrialism

    • C. Anti-colonialism

    • D. Imperialism

United states history lld

United States History - LLD

  • Which of the following would describe the foreign policy of the U.S. immediately after the Spanish-American War?

    • A. Imperialism

    • B. Isolationism

    • C. Militarism

    • D. Socialism

United states history hle

United States History - HLE

  • Which of the following actions by the U.S. Government would have been endorsed by imperialists?

    • A. Building the Panama Canal

    • B. Granting independence to the Philippine Islands

    • C. Passing low protective tariffs

    • D. Reducing military forces

United states history hld

United States History - HLD

  • Imperialism : ________ :: Isolationism :________

    • A. Spanish-American War Period – 1920’s

    • B. Gilded Age – WWI Period

    • C. Spanish-American War – WWI Period

    • D. Gilded Age – 1920’s

Plan your test

Plan Your Test

  • 70 % Easy to Medium

  • 30% Difficult

  • 50% Lower-Level Content

  • 50% Higher-Level Content

Test specification chart

Test Specification Chart

Examples of higher level stems

Examples of Higher Level Stems

  • Which is an example of…..

  • Who would most likely have written (asked, said…) followed by a quote

  • Analogies

  • Fill in the missing part of this graphic organizer

  • Sequencing by Roman numeral

  • Who would have been helped by (law, invention, organization, reform)

Test item development

Test Item Development

  • Direct word associations in the stem and distracter

  • Indirect word associations in the stem and distracter

  • True, but doesn’t fit the time period or specified geographic area

  • True, but not true in this case – doesn’t answer this particular question

  • Am I teaching and assessing in my classroom at the same level that is expected in the TEKS?



  • Never make a distracter a throw-away

  • If you use ALL, none, or except, do not capitalize, italicize or use bold face.

  • Make all distracters parallel (verb phrases, nouns, proper nouns, etc.)

  • Do not let one distracter stick out farther than others

  • Do not repeat the same verbiage at the beginning of distracters. (They all had….They all had….)



  • Be sure if you are asking for a generalization all of the distracters are, in fact, generalizations and not simple inferences or main ideas. This is true of all of the skills to be tested.

  • Be sure there is not more than one plausible answer.

  • Avoid “Best Answer”





Skills prompts

Skills Prompts

  • Cause/Effect

    • Why did/would….?

    • If you removed…..?

  • Infer/Conclude

    • The manufacturers must have…..

  • Summarize

    • Which best describes…..?

Skills prompts1

Skills Prompts

  • What do you see? What does it mean?



Skills prompts2

Skills Prompts

  • Low-Level Map Skills

    • Direction

    • Key

    • Location

    • Identification of Physical Feature

  • High-Level Map Skills

    • Cause/Effect - Impact of above on lifestyle, work, climate, war, commerce, culture

Skills prompts3

Skills Prompts

  • High-Level Map Skills, cont’d.

    • Develop general conclusions supported by details from the map (You can tell by looking at this map that it must be [place] because……

    • Main Ideas/Summaries – break maps into parts; Describe and infer about each part…

Skills prompts4

Skills Prompts

  • Graphs, Charts and Data

    • Simple to complex

    • Comparisons (more, less, most, least)

    • Conclusions/Generalizations (based on the data, you can tell that)

    • Predict from trends (line graphs)

    • Main Idea/Inference – What do you think this graph is about?

Skill prompts

Skill Prompts

  • Graphs, Charts, and Data, continued….

    • Make justified decisions based on data (I would prefer to open a business in [place] because….)

    • Connect cause/effect to trends or phenomena shown

    • Transfer information from one form to another (chart to graph)

Study item types

Study Item Types

  • Study samples of items to get ideas. Include

    • Prompts

    • Graphic Organizers

    • Readings

    • Direct Content Questions

  • Do not try to use one type of item over and over. Vary the stems.



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