Samples from the Tests for Higher Standards in History/Social Science
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Grade-Level Tests

Any use of the TfHS Grade-Level Tests will do at least two things:
provide students with practice for the state-mandated SOL tests, and
give teachers the chance to see SOL content embodied in actual test items.

Test Coverage
The Tests for Higher Standards Grade-Level Tests in the areas of Mathematics, Science, English (Reading and Writing), and History and Social Science for grades Kindergarten through eleven have been developed to help teachers focus instruction on the content and processes of the Virginia Standards of Learning. Because TfHS Grade-Level Tests closely match Virginia Standards of Learning, their value is to help teachers plan, teach, and assess, providing information about student and program strengths and weaknesses.

Test Description
TfHS Grade-Level Tests are criterion-referenced, four-alternative, multiple-choice tests. Each test generally contains some fifty to eighty items - three to six items per Standard - and can be administered in one or two sittings.
Each test Item (question) has been designed to measure one or more aspects of a single Standard. The resulting TfHS Grade-Level Tests are content valid in that test items are clearly referenced to individual Standards and measure them directly.
The tests were developed by experts in each subject area field in with the help of consultants from Virginia and the nation. The SOLs and local division curriculum guides provided content objectives and vocabulary.
Finally, the tests are designed to be pedagogically sound within the broad scope of each of the disciplines. They have been written by educators for educators - and for students.

The TfHS Grade-Level Tests can be used before and after instruction to determine the progress of learning. We recommend testing students over the course of a school year, but some circumstances may dictate a shorter pre-/post- test period. In addition, we suggest these guidelines:
Students who take a TfHS Grade-Level Test as a pretest at the beginning of a school year should take the test designed for that grade level.
In some subjects, however, teachers could choose to use the TfHS Grade-Level Test for the previous, just-completed, grade level. The posttest, given near the end of the school year, or at the end of that grade's course of instruction, would be the test for the students' current grade.
If at least six months intervene between pre- and post- testing, it is both practical and preferable to use the same form of the same grade-level test unless the grade level below was used as a pretest.
The TfHS Grade-Level Tests are necessarily challenging. Teachers who work with students whose achievement is consistently below grade level may find the test for that grade level too difficult. In such cases, instructional leaders may choose to administer tests from earlier levels.

Virginia StudiesTest
(Grade 4)Response Sheet
Class MatrixThe Classroom Matrix: The Classroom Matrix will help you focus instruction, guiding the way you spend instructional time, and helping you make decisions about the sequence in which you teach the content and processes for the Standards of Learning for your subject and grade level. The Matrix gives you a picture of your student's strengths and weaknesses, as individuals and as a class. The Matrix also provides data about each SOL. Please note that the TfHS tests have been carefully referenced to the Standards, as demonstrated by the matrix.
Time/Sequence PlannerTime / Sequence Planning Chart: The Time / Sequence Planning Chart you have is your trip "routing plan." Use it with your knowledge of the students and a reflection on your own experience, and make a tentative decision on how much time you will devote to each SOL and what sequence you will use. To illustrate briefly, you might combine instruction on fractions with teaching customary measurement and combine decimals with metric measurement. Allow the number of days you feel is necessary. Yes, there are not enough days in the school years for what you need to teach, but you do need a plan to allow students an opportunity to learn the SOLs for their grade level. This can be a real conflict for those who are used to teaching learning for mastery. There is simply not enough time. As you can see, the idea here is for you to do your travel plan but don't spend too much time in one place or you will not complete the trip. Yet, at the same time, you need to visit all the sites you had in mind. You will make the key decisions that are most important.



The TfHS Simulation Tests provide the student with a means to experience a test that resembles the State tests. The requirements spelled out in the State test blueprints and the formats presented in the sample items are followed in detail. The State's reporting categories are used for the student response form.
When you see the attached chart that comes with the test describing which test items are in which reporting category, you will note one difference from the State's blueprint. Here is the explanation. The State test may have 50 items, total. Of those, just 40 of the test items count towards the student's score and 10 items are included only for field-testing. In order to keep the TfHS Simulation Tests the same overall length as the State test, the extra 10 items are spread out among the reporting categories in the places where it was believed it would be most helpful instructionally. So, if the blueprints indicate 8 items are in a category, the simulation test might contain 9 or 10 items. However, the total number of items on a simulation test is the same as on the State test. Recently, the Teacher Resource Guides were developed to give a clearer focus to the SOLs.
Our field-testing was done in the spring of 1999 with 20 school divisions participating. The feedback was useful and provided suggestions for correction and modifications. We have modified the pilot version and now feel confident these tests reflect the blueprint specifications. We find a high correlation with the State tests- ranging from .69 to .93 with the results of the 1999-2000 tests.

Some Recommended Uses
1. Give these tests under the same conditions the State requires:
About 4-5 days prior to the State tests, work through the results with the students and have them psychologically ready for the real test. You will have limited time and information for carrying out a diagnostic remediation strategy, but you can make a start in that direction. Use the testing experience to ease test anxiety and teach productive test-taking strategies. The learning that results will probably not be long term, but the activity will almost certainly improve most students' test scores somewhat - which, after all, is the goal!
2. The tests can be used in summer school to determine categories of weakness and learn what instructional focus is needed. Then the Grade-Level Tests can be used to refine what specific instructional focus is needed.
3. Caution: We warn against using the simulation tests for diagnosis, as they contain only a small sample of the SOLs being tested.
4. Note: Teacher should take this test well before giving it to students. This will make it clear what needs to be covered for the state SOL test.

Civics and EconomicsTest
Response Sheet


SAB Item Banks

Description and Uses
The major portion of TfHS was the development of the TfHS Grade-Level Test. With those tests in place, we felt a need to provide teachers and students with a means for ongoing feedback about student achievement. Hence, we produced SAB item Banks. We believe these item banks fill a present instructional void in SOL-Specific assessment of content.
The item banks exist for all content areas, in grades K-11. The index page for each item bank indicates the number of items available to measure each SOL subcategory for that grade. We have provided a sufficient number of test items to yield a reliable means of determining either satisfactory or unsatisfactory student achievement on an SOL. Our item banks generally contain some 350 to upwards of 500 items per subject per grade, usually some 15-25 plus items, per SOL. This number of items per SOL is higher in some cases, for example, in Chemistry and most of History and Social Science, because the numbers of standards in those areas is small but the coverage of each standard is quite broad.
For a more ongoing diagnostic/remediation approach to instruction, we encourage the development of nine-weeks (six-weeks) Benchmark tests with an accompanying Class Matrix. In conjunction with this practice, we also encourage ongoing, systematic Snapshot testing: 3-5 items on a single page. We have developed software to assist in the development of Benchmark and Snapshot testing.
In the SABs the correct alternatives are colored dark blue. This makes constructing the key for a test very simple - just "follow the blue." After the key is made, the text of the entire test is selected (control-A) and the font color is set to "black." Then the test is ready to go!

Virginia and U.S. HistoryItem Index