Writing Standards-Based Assessments

Course Name

Writing Standards-Based Assessments

Contact Hours: 24

Course Description

This course is designed to give you an understanding of writing test items that are aligned to your standards. This course will enable you to develop assessments that are based on your standards, and are therefore in line with your state assessment program.

The information we share will focus on understanding the cognitive level of the standards in order to develop items that meet those objectives. Principles of good assessment item writing will also be taught in this course to enable teachers to develop questions that are fair and challenging, without being tricky or confusing.

This course is designed for K-12 teachers but the concepts and examples will translate for all educators who aim to create better assessments for their students.


After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the cognitive levels of learning
  • Choose appropriate questions for the different levels of cognitive thought
  • Write assessments that are aligned to your particular standards
  • Employ principles of good item writing in developing your assessments



Grading Policies:

This course is self-directed. Each lesson contains a quiz, which is graded upon completion.


  1. Lesson 1: In this lesson, you will learn more about how to assess those standards written at the lower levels of the taxonomy. Specific verbs and question stems will help guide you in developing your own assessment items. 

  2. Lesson 2:  In this lesson, you will learn the requirements of learning at the middle levels of thought. You will determine which standards are written at this level. You will also learn how to choose the most appropriate verbiage for items that will test your students at this level.

  3. Lesson 3:  In this lesson, you will learn about the highest order of thinking skills. You will recognize when your standards call for this level of thought. You will also learn how to write assessment items that will assess student learning at this level. 

  4. Lesson 4:  In this lesson, you will learn principles for creating good multiple choice items. You will understand the techniques for developing good stems as well as choices that will prevent students from using standard tricks when answering questions, instead requiring them to think the questions through.  

  5. Lesson 5:  In this lesson you will learn about other important considerations when developing assessment items, including bias and the use of alternative assessment methods when the standard can not be assessed with a multiple choice question. 

  6. Lesson 6:  In this lesson, you will learn how to write assessment items that are aligned in content and cognitive level, while keeping in mind the principles of good item writing.