How to Write a Table of Specifications for Elementary Math

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How to Write a Table of Specifications for Elementary Math
Tables of Specifications are used to break down the components of a test (test image by multimartinator from Fotolia.com)

A table of specifications is a chart that shows the topics that will be covered on a test. The table breaks down the types of questions that will be asked on a test, and the topics that the questions will be covering. A table of specifications can be used by the teacher, to help write a fair test, and by the students, who can use it to help them study for the test. Writing a table of specifications for elementary math takes only a basic knowledge of table construction, and can help you communicate learning outcomes to your students.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Refer to your curriculum guidelines to see what material you should cover on tests. These guidelines should tell you what students need to have learnt by what point in the semester, and may give you some sample questions for testing, but they will not necessarily tell you how to weight questions and topics on a test. Instead, they will give you a guideline for what topics to cover on the test.

  2. 2

    Write out a weighting system that measures the topics covered on the test against the types of proficiency that are being tested. Topics include things like "addition", "subtraction", and "multiplication", while proficiencies include things like "problem solving" and "memory". Different proficiencies are tested with different types of questions, such as problems for problem solving and multiple choice for memory and retention.

  3. 3

    Convert from percentage weightings to points. A test, by definition, is worth 100 per cent of itself. If a test is broken down into four sections, then each of those sections is worth 25percent of the test. Since you do not grade individual questions in terms of percentages, you need to assign the test a total number of points, where each section is worth as many points out of the total as the corresponding percentage value you assigned to it. For example, if you have decided that the multiple choice section of your test is worth 20 per cent of the total, you could write the section with 20 questions worth one point each, or 100 questions worth .25 of a point each.

  4. 4

    Construct a table with these dimensions: the column furthest to the right and the row furthest to the bottom are for "totals", so write the word "total" in the top right and bottom left slots. The top row contains the labels for all the proficiencies being tested, while the left column contains the labels for the subjects being tested. The bottom row and leftmost column contain the totals for proficiencies and subjects, with the bottom right slot containing the total points value of the test. The number of columns and rows will depend on the topics and skills you are testing.

  5. 5

    Put the numbers for your test into your table and see if they add up to give you the "total" figure in the bottom right hand slot. If they do, you have successfully constructed a table of specifications.

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