The Construction and Use of Achievement Examinations: A Manual for Secondary School Teachers

The Construction and Use of Achievement Examinations: A Manual for Secondary School Teachers

The Construction and Use of Achievement Examinations: A Manual for Secondary School Teachers

The Construction and Use of Achievement Examinations: A Manual for Secondary School Teachers

Excerpt

Probably more than a million people in the United States are officially charged with responsibility for writing examination questions. College professors are but a small proportion -- about 5 per cent. Besides these, there are school teachers of all grades, civil service examiners, state examiners for licensing doctors, pharmacists, and other professional men, bar examiners, and many others.

Examinations are not only used extensively; they vitally affect the lives and fortunes of millions of our people. Careers are sometimes determined by them. They are powerful instruments for promoting or for retarding realization of that great American aspiration to give everyone his utmost chance. Therefore, it is not enough merely to make sure that they are valid and fairly administered. We must make them reveal the salient factors involved as accurately and as intelligently as possible.

Fifty years ago examining was a highly individualistic affair. Each examiner framed his own questions, read the papers himself, and made his personal appraisal of the results. This simple procedure was adequate while our civilization was developing through the pioneer stage. But, as wealth increased, more young people pressed on in increasing numbers to colleges and professional schools, and the need for reliable and discriminating examinations became acute. Hence, the gradual evolution of examining boards, of committees of readers, of improved school records and accrediting systems, and, more recently, of new-type standardized objective tests. These, and many other trends, are both demanding and tending to produce greater reliability and validity in examinations and tests.

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