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Test-writing process

The State Department of Education uses great care to develop the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.

Danith Clausen, Willmar's director of curriculum and instruction, said the tests are written by groups of teachers recruited by the SDE from across the state.

They start with the state standards and then they write the test specifications, deciding what standards will be included in the test. Testing all the standards wouldn't be practical, she said, and some of them wouldn't lend themselves to a computer test.

Once the test questions are developed, they go through an extensive review process, Clausen said. The questions are judged not only for the type of knowledge they are testing but also for how they are asked.

Cultural neutrality is important in the questions, she said. She used the example of a reading test question about camping. For most children, the question would be OK, she said, but for a child who recently came to this country from a refugee camp, camping has an entirely different meaning.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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