School Improvement in Maryland

Characteristics of Good Items

Extended Constructed Responses


This item can be used to measure the student's ability to analyze and respond to complex situations. The response is in the form of a paragraph of prose or a display of visual and/or verbal material. It gives students the opportunity to generate an extended response to a question or other stimulus. The ECR can be used to

    Fassess a student's understanding of specific facts and the ability to analyze and reason through situations about those facts.
  • assess a student's ability to select, construct, and analyze a graph.
  • assess a student's ability to analyze a complex problem and to generate a model or other solution to a particular problem or issue.
  • assess a student's ability to communicate information collected from a reading, from an investigation, or from other sources.

Many times, the ECR is used to measure student achievement relative to one or more indicators. However, in the high school assessment program, each question will measure only one indicator. An ECR item may take the average student approximately 15 minutes to complete depending on the complexity of the question.

Item Writing Guidelines

The item should

  1. clearly tell students what they are to do and what is expected of them.
  2. clearly tell students where they are to write their response. The amount of space provided on the answer document should be appropriate for the length of the expected response.
  3. use simple but authentic vocabulary and good sentence structure. It should be clear and concise.
  4. identify the information or material that students should use when preparing their response. It should focus the students' attention on the particular area of knowledge or to the specific aspect of the stimulus material that the students should use.
  5. clearly indicate the scientific skill or process that should be demonstrated in the response (see CLG 1 and higher order thinking skills).
  6. provide proper cueing to direct the student's thinking and identify expectations.

NOTE: The rubric worksheet should be used to outline the sample response before the question is actually crafted. The sample response will be used by the scorer as an indicator of a quality response.