There is a great annual, intellectual sport of criticizing the released items on California's STAR test in physics. Each year, the California Department of Education releases 25% of the previous year's test. When the new items are published, the listservs light up with hue and cry: many (if not all) the items are deemed trivial, poorly constructed, or flat-out wrong. Or all of the above!
Some of the criticism is well-founded, some not so much. I doubt there is a question in existence that would be unanimously approved by a group of 100 physics instructors. Add to that the reservations that many teachers have regarding state-mandated science standards, and you've got a recipe for, well, enthusiastic criticism.
It is in that spirit that I present these questions from Illinois (Word document). The document appears to be one district's attempt to simulate a statewide assessment given to 7th-graders. The state's released test questions can be found here (PDF).
Please look at both and see if you think they constitute an assessment you would hope for in your fair state. How would you assess the writing, grammar, content, and difficulty of these items? Let me know in the comments.
Admonishment and acknowledgments to Freakonomics via Bad Astronomy. Those sites are portaying the school district's practice test as the state's assessment items. I fear they are in error to do so.
UPDATE: Here's an item from the official ISAT RTQs. I would have recommended rejection had it been offered for California's physics STAR test.
What property of light waves can be observed as light waves pass from one medium to another and change speed?
Seems straightforward enough. Why would I have rejected it?