Test Development and Analysis


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Essay Questions and Discrimination Index

The first poor essay question asks the students to discuss in some detail the U.S department of Homeland Security. Several qualities of an effective essay question make it poor. First, effective essay questions must supply the student with a reference of the types of idea and substance to use in responding to the essay subject (Reiner, 2002). Our question in this case doesnt provide to the student the thoughts and content to use to answer it. In stead it uses the word some which has room for variations in answers. In addition, the question doesn’t provide the projected learning effect. This allows for intelligibility and specificity.

The question is too general to supply clear direction in writing an essay query. The decree verb some is too unclear and hard to evaluate. It is in particular tricky to arbitrate or allocate a grade to students some. Anticipated learning outcome destined to guide the progress of test items will characteristically begin with a definite command verb like: In terms of history, responsibility and functions, discuss the US department of Homeland Security of the Federal Government.

The second poor question is asks the students whether the changes mandated for municipal and license schools by the No Child Left Behind Act are civilizing education in America. First of all, this question is discriminative. Two types of students are involved in the second objective: the candidates for administrator certification and the candidates for certification. The candidates for the administrator certification will end up not answering the essay question since it is outside their jurisdiction. Effective essay questions dictate that one uses several essay moderately short essay questions to discuss the scope of essay question rather than one long question (ibid). In this case two questions would have served the purpose of testing the two types of candidates presented.

It is also required that one avoids optional questions since they make it difficult to evaluate whether all the students are equally knowledgeable about topics covered in the test. The second essay question is poor since it makes the question optional to the candidates for the administrator certificate. This will result to difficulty in evaluating all the knowledge capacity of both types of students about the topics covered. Instead, second question could have been presented like: in not less than 500 words, describe the history of Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as Amended through 2007-2008 or , are the changes mandated for public and charter schools by the No Child Left Behind Act improving education in America.

To explain a pessimistic indicator of bias on a test item to a teacher who wrote the test under analysis, one must carry out an item analysis to distinguish between excellent performing and reduced performing students. In the item analysis, the discriminative index measure is used. This refers to how sound a test differentiates amid high and low performers. In other words, one should tell the teacher to expect that if the low performing students would get a specific item correct as compared to the top performing students then the answer has a negative discrimination index (of between  – 1 and 0). Therefore, negative discrimination has correct answers in an item higher in the lower group (ray & Wu, 2002).


Ray, Adams & Wu, Margaret. (2002).PISA programme for international Students Assessment        (PISA): PISA 2000 technical report. OECD Publishing. France: Paris.

Reiner C.M, Bothell W, Sudweeks R. &wood B. (2002). Preparing effective essay   questions. How essay questions should be constructed. Chapter 3, pg 22. New forums           Press.


James Peter is the author and is associated with meldaresearch.com which is a global custom thesis writing  provider. If you would like help in essays, research papers, term papers and dissertations, you can visit BestEssaySite.Com

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