Test Setting Procedure-Some Guide Lines for the New Head of Department

A high school with its many year levels and subject areas has to be well organised especially around assessment time to avoid problems that might arise to add stress to both students and teachers. This is the most stressful time of the school year. To alleviate as much stress as possible in my Mathematics department […]



A high school with its many year levels and subject areas has to be well organised especially around assessment time to avoid problems that might arise to add stress to both students and teachers. This is the most stressful time of the school year.

To alleviate as much stress as possible in my Mathematics department I create a test setting procedure with my teacher aide. Each subject or year level had a coordinator responsible for writing the assessment tasks. Below is the procedure each coordinator was to follow to create as stress free process as possible.

The unit coordinator would:

1. Write a draft of the test Instrument at least two weeks before the task is given. This draft should contain:

  • A range of items from simple to complex;
  • Items that test basic procedures;
  • Items from each topic taught during the assessment period; and
  • Problem solving items to test the high achievers.

2. Give each teacher in his/her cohort a copy of the draft plus a worked version overnight and meet them the next day to finalise the test instrument. Then collect and destroy all draft versions of the test.

3. Work out the allocated time for the task. In working the final version, the coordinator should test how much time it took to do the task. As a general rule, students will take approximately three times longer than the teacher. This is a guide for the time given to the task.

4. Give the test to the teacher aide to type.

5. Check typed version and return edited version to teacher aide for correction.

6. Check the corrected version. Have another teacher or yourself work the assessment task from the printed version. If satisfactory, return it to the teacher aide for duplication.

7. On the day of the test, give all teachers a worked version of the task and, if necessary, organise the across the board marking.

8. Check for any problems with the marking and make any alterations necessary to overcome any problems that arise, e.g. adjust cut-offs, marking scheme, alternative solution if required, ASAP.

9. Refer any problems to head of department ASAP.

10. Ensure that copies of the assessment task and the marking scheme/criteria are stored in the year level assessment file.

11. The coordinator should also include a report in the above file on how effective the assessment was or if there were any problems. It might be possible to include a rewritten, updated version for use in the following year particularly if it is a non-traditional assessment task.

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