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Monday, October 27, 2008

ARMT Open-Ended Questions

Here are some of the “big ideas” I took from a workshop on ARMT Open-Ended Questions:

    • Doing well on the Stanford is still important. On the ARMT, 60% of the reading questions are actually taken from the Stanford-10. In the area of math, 30% of the questions are from the Stanford-10.
    • Open-ended responses in reading test one thing—Reading Comprehension
    • Students need to use a “just the facts ma’am” approach. No topic sentence. No concluding sentence. Simply list what is asked for. Spending time writing great prose won’t help the score, and will take away valuable time that could be spent elsewhere.
    • To help students prepare throughout the year, as you read things in class, ask students questions such as, “What three things did you learn from this?”
    • We all know that charts and graphs are important. When these appear in the textbook, train students to quickly locate in the text the reference made to the chart or graph.
    • Why can’t I write outside the lines? The instructions on the open-ended responses caution students against this. What happens if they do? Here is the explanation: The answer booklets are cut apart and the individual sheets are scanned into a computer. When the booklets are cut, anything outside the lines will be cut off. The people scoring the responses will never see what had been written.
    • Students are not supposed to underline passages on the ARMT. Why is this not allowed? After all, underlining is a good strategy. The answer is that the machines which score the answers are so sensitive that something written in the booklet several lines away will still be read by the machine. Here is a strategy that students can use: Put a finger on the particular spot in the booklet as a “place marker.” A student may wind up with several fingers spread up and down the page to mark specific spots.
    • Here are some activities to help prepare for ARMT
    • Here is a pretty thorough handout on the subject of open-ended questions
    • This year, we have schools in our system who have been chosen to take the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress). You can go here for sample questions. What you will find is that you could run off one reading passage and glean sometimes as many as 80 questions that you could ask from that one passage.

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