Educational Assessment

What is all this about “educational assessment”?

Pyramid Tossup

Tests in school have always had several types, but since big test companies got involved, those tests are now called by terms you may not be familiar with that make education seem more daunting (and expensive!) than it should be:

  • Placement test/”Do you know enough to even start the class?”
  • Pre-test/”How much do you already know about the subject before we start?”/diagnostic assessment/pre assessment
  • Chapter or unit test/”What do you know about the subject, now that we’ve studied something?”/formative assessment
  • Final exam/”What did you learn overall from the whole course?”/summative assessment

For entire schools or school districts that are supposed to be studying the same material, there are also “interim assessments” (a large-scale formative assessment), while for multiple school districts, there are “benchmark assessments” (massive-scale standardized tests of some kind). Results of some of this assessment end up as published research in an education journal.

Assessment data provides the empirical data and other useful information needed by teachers and support staff in evaluations of their teaching as part of a continuous process of improving student performance in ways that reflect student learning.

What kinds of questions are used in evaluations of student learning these days?

In the old days, a multiple-choice test question was worth one point.

But in the world of educational assessment and evaluations these days, a test question is not called a “question.” It’s an “item.” So a 50-point test can contain 50 items. And with the growth of technology, test items can be a whole lot different than they used to be.

There are still multiple-choice items where you color in the right bubble on a bubble sheet. But many educational assessments now have a few items at the end that are more complicated, result in more detailed evaluations, and are worth more than one point each. You “construct a response” by writing a few words, or a sentence or two, or a paragraph, or writing the number that solves a math problem–and showing the work of how you got there. These items usually have multiple parts, not just one, so on these tests, a 50-item test may actually have a perfect score of 60 points.

Some schools use items with pictures on the computer screen and tell you, “Drag each picture that is a correct answer across the screen and drop it here. Then drag each incorrect picture somewhere else on the screen.” Some items have multiple correct answers possible. Test items become more creative all the time, with the idea of improving student learning of the subject matter.

So why use you? We’ve never heard of you until now.

Because educational assessments, of all types listed above, are very similar to the “tossup/bonus” format used in most quiz bowl tournaments. Multiple-choice questions are a lot like tossups (one correct answer), and “open response”/”constructed response” questions are a lot like bonuses. We didn’t need to read a lot of journal research to figure this out, either.

Accordingly, we have now provided items for educational assessments to (at last count) 12 different states (and their differing rules/standards) by subcontracting with nearly a dozen of the biggest assessment test companies in the U.S. over the last 15 years. Our items help in your evaluations of what students understand, and with the items in a quiz game format (as desired) or in our Fact Mountain apps, you’re more likely to improve student learning.

We even provide gifted and talented academic competitions in English, math and social studies to school districts as a challenge for their top students , as well as question sets in several subjects that will help your students get “quizbowl good” and improve their performance. Again, no journal research needed–just a chance for students to highlight their performance and show off what they know.

If you need test or quizbowl items as part of an educational assessment of your students’ performance, or to augment educational assessment resources you use already, we can provide high-quality items at far less cost than the big firms that work with your state Department of Education. We can even email them to you or use Dropbox or another online delivery method.

Contact us for more details!

Download our 2021-22 quizbowl catalog!