I Always Wanted to Be a Princess: What I Learned from Working at a Great Big Huge Test Publishing Company

While I never in a million years would have ever admitted it and in fact have some trouble admitting it now, I always wanted to be a princess, even into adulthood when one might have thought I would have by then put away that childish thing. Eventually–finally and at great cost–I learned that the desire […]

Succeeding as a Freelance Item Writer: Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

As discussed previously in the Quality Manifesto, the questions on tests are written by freelance item writers. Their name is legion. How can you stand out from the herd? One or two or six are like me. This odd niche of educational publishing is our bread and butter, our career, our all in all. As to the […]

Common Mistakes in Item Writing: When the Shoes Don’t Match the Outfit

Shoes make the outfit. But I think we can all agree that you’ve got to wear shoes that work with the clothes. You can’t wear saucy red patent leather espadrilles—   –with serviceable but baggy and, let’s be honest, nondescript sweatpants. (Unless you’re someone whose name is Not Me. I have to admit that Naomi–the model, my youngest-by-five-minutes […]


As obvious as the link is between the quality of content (we could also say validity) and item writing training, it remains a mystery to me how sound practices in item writing training have nearly become obsolete.Steven M. Downing discusses this link in “Twelve Steps for Effective Test Development” from the Handbook of Test Development: Yet […]

It’s Like That

. . . in the immortal words of Run DMC. Recently, as part of my quality reform campaign, I took several protégées under my wing. It was a responsibility I’d been ducking for years. I’ve always thought that I more than met my obligations to my industry by simply doing the best work that I could […]