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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Multiple Choice Questions in Middle School Math

Multiple Choice Questions in Middle School Math

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I teach 6th grade math in Anoka, MN and our department is struggling with the question of how valuable multiple choice tests are in math. Some teachers do not like multiple choice tests because it's easier to guess and not always as easy to find students' mistakes. Others argue students need to be tested in the format they will see on standardized tests. I'm wondering if other middle school math teachers have struggled with this question?

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David Wees's picture
David Wees
Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools

I think that designing effective classroom assessment should not be based on standardized tests. Those tests are written as multiple choice tests, not because this is a more effective form of assessment, but because they are cheap to grade.

There is a skill to taking a multiple choice however, and the reality is that your staff does not have control over whether your students will do standardized tests. My recommendation is to focus on effective assessment, and to explicitly teach the skill of taking a multiple choice test sometime close to when students will actually take their standardized tests.

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