GED® Testing Service Introduces Assessment Guide for Educators
by Elizabeth B. Thompson, CFLE, CMPI
The GED® Testing Service has published an online tool to begin to address the questions of teachers throughout the nation. The full title of the document is Assessment Guide for Educators: A Guide to the 2014 Assessment Content from the GED® Testing Service. The document was released in February 2012. It is posted on a web page titled GED®Testing Service, The New Assessment, http://gedcbt.org/gedts/assessment/.
The site includes the three downloadable chapters of the Assessment Guide for Educators, a podcast and slide sets from webinar presentations, one for each chapter. Whether you prefer to read, see information in pictures, or hear information, there is a tool for you.
Each of the three chapters presented in the Guide contains information that will be helpful to teachers. I will highlight some of the content, but teachers will gain much more insight by reviewing the entire Assessment Guide for Educators.
This chapter provides basic information about the 2014 assessment content. It has been well-publicized that the assessment targets will be derived from Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and similar college and career readiness standards used in Texas and Virginia. It is also well-known that the assessment will be administered using a computer, much like the process Texas uses to administer BEST Plus. Assessments are downloaded to the computer and administered as needed. There is no online test administration. The 2014 assessment content will be comprised of four tests: literacy, mathematics, science and social studies. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this chapter; however, is the introduction of a variety of new test item types.
Multiple choice answers will still exist, but the computerized format allows for the introduction of a variety of new test item formats. Multiple choice questions will have four possible answers and refer to a content passage. A variation on traditional multiple choice, the multiple select test item will have two or three correct responses. The test-taker must identify all possible correct answers to receive full credit for the question. Test-takers are told the number of correct answers for each multiple select question.
Technology-enhanced items demonstrate the need for every test-taker to have basic familiarity with computer applications. Drag and drop items will be used to re-order words or phrases in a paragraph or to complete a graph. Cloze items allow the test-taker to select the correct response from a drop down list, or insert the mathematical symbol to complete mathematical equation.
The use of a Split-screen layout will be introduced for short answer and extended response items. The split-screen feature will allow the test-taker to view the entire passage and his/her written response at the same time. Test-takers compose their responses using the computer.
The 2014 GED® tests are in development using Webb's Depth of Knowledge Model (DOK). The DOK model is "a framework for analyzing a wide range of educational materials on the basis of the cognitive demands they require in order for a learner to produce a response to those materials." DOK was developed in 1997 by Dr. Norman L. Webb to "analyze cognitive complexity in academic standards and curricula."
The 2014 GED® assessment program will use the DOK model in much the same way it used Bloom's Taxonomy in the 2002 Series GED® Test. The chapter differentiates between difficulty and complexity DOK emphasizes complexity. While difficulty of a question varies per learner, complexity is a function of the question itself. Complexity describes "the cognitive steps the test-taker must go through to arrive at a correct answer."
The chapter explains that DOK is measured in four levels and shows how those four levels compare to the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. Eight percent of questions on the 2012 GED® assessment will be at levels two and three while 20% will be at level one. There will be no questions designed at DOK, level 4. The chapter includes Depth of Knowledge Level Descriptor Charts for all four assessment areas (literacy, mathematics, science, social studies).
This chapter lists Common Core Standards for each assessment area. For example, standard L.1.3 is "edit to correct errors in pronoun usage, including pronoun-antecedent agreement, unclear pronoun references and pronoun case." Note that the Assessment Guide for Educators does not include specific references to the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards; however, it does allow you to read the objective that will be assessed.
A set of charts describing exactly which standards and mathematics formulas will be assessed in the new GED® Test is included. This chapter gives a good preview of the learning objectives that will be included in the 2014 assessment.
Chapter three provides in-depth information about scoring for the various items. Short answer items will be scored on a three point scale. Each item will have its own scoring rules; therefore, each item will have its own scoring guide. Extended response items will be scored using rubrics applied by automated scoring engines. The chapter explains how the scoring engines will be developed and how they will implement the scoring rubrics for each question. Finally, Chapter Three includes illustrative descriptions of the skill types that will be assessed in each individual reporting category.
Assessment Guide for Educators provides teachers with enough information to begin introducing new test item formats and scoring rubrics in the classroom. You can learn more at http://gedcbt.org/gedts/assessment/.
About the Author
Elizabeth Thompson is Assistant Director, Texas LEARNS where she oversees professional development and manages TEAMS, the state data collection system.