Dr. Marciano B. Melchor University of Ha’il, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA May 2013
A Table of Specifications is a two-waychart which describes the topics to becovered by a test and the number ofitems or points which will be associatedwith each topic.
Kubiszyn & Borich, (2003) emphasized the following significance and components of TOS:1. A Table of Specifications consists of a two- way chart or grid relating instructional objectives to the instructional content. The column of the chart lists the objectives or "levels of skills" (Gredlcr, 1999) to be addressed; The rows list the key concepts or content the test is to measure.
According to Bloom, et al. (1971), "We have found it useful to represent therelation of content and behaviors in theform of a two dimensional table with theobjectives on one axis, the content on theother”.
2. A Table of Specifications identifies not only the content areas covered in class, it identifies the performance objectives at each level of the cognitive domain of Blooms Taxonomy.Teachers can be assured that they are measuring students learning across a wide range of content and readings as well as cognitive processes requiring higher order thinking.
3. A Table of Specifications is developed before the test is written. In fact it should be constructed before the actual teaching begins.
4. The purpose of a Table of Specifications is to identify the achievement domains being measured and to ensure that a fair and representative sample of questions appear on the test.
Carey (1988) pointed out that the timeavailable for testing depended not onlyon the length of the class period but also on students attention spans.
1. A true-false test item takes 15 seconds to answer unless the student is asked to provide the correct answer for false questions. Then the time increases to 30-45 seconds.2. A seven item matching exercise takes 60-90 seconds.
3. A four response multiple choice test item that asks for an answer regarding a term, fact, definition, rule or principle (knowledge level item) takes 30 seconds. The same type of test item that is at the application level may take 60 seconds.
4. Any test item format that requires solving a problem, analyzing, synthesizing information or evaluating examples adds 30-60 seconds to a question.
5. Short-answer test items take 30-45 seconds.6. An essay test takes 60 seconds for each point to be compared and contrasted.
If an individual can perform the mostdifficult aspects of the objective, theinstructor can "assume" the lower levelscan be done. However, if testing the lower levels,the instructor cannot "assume" theindividual can perform the higher levels.
The cornerstone of classroomassessment practices is the validity of thejudgments about students’ learning andknowledge. A TOS is one tool that teachers canuse to support their professionaljudgment when creating or selecting testfor use with their students.
In order to understand how to bestmodify a TOS to meet your needs, it isimportant to understand the goal of thisstrategy: improving validity of a teacher’sevaluations based on a given assessment.Validity is the degree to which theevaluations or judgments we make asteachers about our students can be trustedbased on the quality of evidence wegathered (Wolming & Wilkstrom, 2010).
From the literatures we have known thatstandardized tests are valid. The question needs to he asked if GPAsare a valid measures of studentachievement? GPAs are based in large measure onteacher made tests. If teacher made testsare not valid, how can a students GPA bevalid? The use of a Table of Specificationscan provide teacher made tests validity(Notar, Charles, 2004).
Lei, Bassiri and Schultz,(2001) foundthat a college GPA was an unreliablepredictor of student achievement. Sincewe assume that norm referenced tests arevalid measures, the tendency is to putmore weight on those results concerningstudent achievement.
According to Ooster (2003) thefaculty made tests will likely havepoor content validity, "cause forconcern because each assessmentinstrument depends on its validitymore than on any other factor."
A Table of Specifications benefits students in two ways. First, it improves the validity ofteacher-made tests. Second, it can improve studentlearning as well.
A Table of Specifications helps toensure that there is a match betweenwhat is taught and what is tested.Classroom assessment should be drivenby classroom teaching which itself isdriven by course goals and objectives. Tables of Specifications provide thelink between teaching and testing.(University of Kansas, 2013)
Teachers can collaborate with students , teachers or colleagues on the construction of the Table of Specifications: what are the main ideas and topics, what emphasis should be placed on each topic, what should be on the test? Open discussion and negotiation of these issues can encourage higher levels of understanding while also modeling good learning and study skills.