Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Test Blueprints and Instruction/Assessment Alignment

I had some thoughts in my class notes from our lectures with Scott and wanted to get some of them out on the blog. Here they are:

Test blueprints help align instruction with tests. During class Scott mentioned that hardly anyone uses them. In fact it seems that he mentioned that those who mainly use test blueprints are involved in the development of state, national and professional assessments. I wondered why when it seemed like such a no brainer to align instruction with assessments. And then I looked at some sample test blueprints. It became very clear why faculty doesn’t use them. How they are done varies greatly. In most cases they probably seem unnecessarily complex and they are not the most intuitive tools to use. I doubt most faculty have the time to just figure it out and I can’t imagine a faculty member in the math department, or any other, sits there thinking, “ah man I need to get my test blueprint done.” Without support how could we expect them to do so. Also, depending on the type of blueprint you may finish one and then wonder what the next step is or how it will really translate into the actual assessment(s).

I think an interesting project would be to create a self-guided online or at least computer guided test-blueprint tool. It could walk professors through the steps of the blueprint creation and provide practical suggestions for the course instruction, assessment plan, and tests. All based on what the professor indicated were the objectives and desired outcomes.

I am sure creating such a tool would be a complex issue but I think it could be done. Having a blueprint would help the faculty be one step closer to aligning instruction and assessment. However, not only is it necessary to align assessment and instruction but there is an ever growing need to align the delivery method of instruction with the delivery of assessments. This does not seem to be addressed in the blueprints I saw nor do I think the online blueprint creation tool could ensure that. That alignment becomes not only a design issue but a resource and environment issue. I’ll leave that discussion for people much smarter than myself

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