Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Disappointing trend in RTQ release dates

One element of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program is the publication of a sample of the test questions that have been used on previous administrations of each test. The published items are called "Released Test Questions" (RTQs).

Twenty-five percent of the operational form from the previous year must be sent out into the world as RTQs. Those questions will never again be used on the operational forms.

The Physics CST is a 60-item test, so 15 questions are released each year. Classroom teachers always like to see actual items from previous tests to get a sense of the depth and scope of the assessment tool. The sooner the RTQs are released, the sooner teachers can use them with students.

The publication date (the day when the new RTQs are posted to CDE's web site) varies from year to year. In recent years, CDE/ETS appear to have been taking their cues from Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle." The RTQ release date has been "slipping, slipping, slipping... into the future."

2006 RTQs were released 1/9/06 (As I recall, they were originally released 11/28/05, but there were some significant typographical errors in the initial release. The 1/9/06 update fixed the bugs.)
2007 RTQs were released 2/1/07
2008 RTQs were released 2/8/08
2009 RTQs have yet to be released as of 2/25/09

Why the date slips further each year remains a mystery.

ETA: I just noticed another disappointment: item 10 (on the 2008 Physics RTQs) continues to be missing axis labels in choices B, C, and D. Worse, one of the resistors in item 64 is not labeled, making the item unsolvable. These errors were pointed out to CDE on 2/8/08. Here's hoping the 2009 RTQs will correct this item.

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