In the social studies, assessment and evaluation is about building skills and content knowledge. While most admit that giving summative multiple choice tests is hardly an ideal scenario, with class sizes so large and the demand for "better data" more pressing, teachers must prepare students to be evaluated in that format. In high school, this means teaching with an eye on content knowledge at all times, even when trying to build important skills like content reading and writing. Whenever possible, I will try to make sure that my students are expertly prepared for standardized tests while not sacrificing the critical skills they need as citizens: creativity, critical thinking, ethics, literacy, and political agency.

A key for students is the practice of formative assessment. This is one of the hardest tasks for teachers: the ability to observe students in the middle of a lesson and perceive how well they are following the content. Sometimes, teachers give worksheets to take stock. Other teachers favor verbal checks by asking the class if they understand the content. While summative assessment is occasionally helpful for student growth, formative assessment (when done correctly) seems to have enormous benefits for students. Teachers are better able to guide the lesson and students can then get more out of every minute of instruction. In social studies, I often prefer to have students do most of the talking during class; this also helps me to formatively assess how well they are understanding the lesson.

For my unit on memory I created my own summative exam. In the process of creating this exam, I learned to organize my intended learning outcomes (ILOs) into a table of specifications (TOS). The table of specifications delineates into which category of Bloom's Taxonomy my ILOs fell, which helped me to create a test with the proper verbiage. Spelling this process out so deliberately helped me see the inner workings of psychometrics. Going forward, I intend to use ILOs and TOSs to create valid and reliable tests. As a teacher, I am interested in making assessments that test what I taught and help reinforce those concepts at the same time. A valid test is challenging but fair. A reliable test is free from distracting systematic errors.


  • Please take a moment to review my test creation project. In this project, I spell out how I created the unit test for memory, why I chose the content and construct I used, and how I will use the test to make predictions about my teaching and my students. The test was edited to match the content that students learned based on an updated TOS. After I gave my test, I analyzed the results.

  • In my unit on memory, I incorporate pre-testing and formative assessment into my lessons to monitor student growth over time. The first formative assessment I gave in the unit showed students did not grasp some of the initial concepts on memory (procedural vs semantic memory), so I was able to give a pre-assessment tied with a short instructive clip the next class to reinforce the concepts. Afterwards, students seem to grasp the concepts much more firmly.

  • As a summative assessment for a unit I constructed on personality, students completed online posters which were designed to showcase the achievements of one theory of personality. Please see this example from a student who did an exemplary job with the assignment.

  • For my graduate student project, I researched the subject of standardized testing and wrote a brief paper on my findings. With that research in mind, I completed an implementation plan and analyzed the results of my plan. As expected, I found that students improved at testing reasoning as they were exposed more consistently to test questions.