Mark-up: Annotating Text for Item Writing

Consider this Part II of how to avoid writing superficial items. I thought it might be helpful to give a real example of what annotating text for item writing might look like. I started out by doing what I usually do: printing out a page and marking it up. But! My handwriting is bad. Not […]

Go Deep: How to Avoid Writing Superficial Reading Comprehension and Literary Analysis Items

Item writing is so complex–it is this interweaving of interpretation and analysis and extension of ideas beyond the text; it is the conjoining of skills and knowledge in order to measure students’ skills and knowledge. There are so many ways to get it wrong. In writing items to measure reading comprehension, one of the most […]

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 […]

The Big Idea, or Focus, Cross-Referenced to Basic Rules of Item Writing

What comes before preparation is intention, which we previously discussed here. Still, the concept of the Big Idea bears further exploration.Let’s consider how we might approach this grade 4 standard from the CCSS, RL.4.2: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text. This standard is passage-dependent; […]