RD466 - Report on the Feasibility of Implementing a Partial Credit Scoring Model for the Standards of Learning Tests – November 1, 2017

Executive Summary:
Legislation enacted by the 2017 General Assembly required the following:

“The Department of Education shall collaborate with the existing educational advisory committees in the Commonwealth that advise on student assessments to review multipart Standards of Learning assessment questions and determine the feasibility of awarding students partial credit for correct answers on one or more parts of such questions. The Department shall report its determination to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health by November 1, 2017. The Department shall not take action regarding the awarding of partial credit prior to the 2018 Session of the General Assembly.”

The majority of test questions (items) used on the Standards of Learning tests are presented in a multiple-choice format. However, approximately 15 percent of the test questions on the reading, writing, mathematics, and science tests are “technology-enhanced” items in which the student indicates knowledge or skills by performing an action such as editing a sentence by inserting punctuation marks or creating a bar graph.

A small number of the technology-enhanced items require students to provide more than one response to answer the item. Currently, the student must provide all of the responses required by the item to receive credit; no “partial credit” is awarded. Virginia educators have requested that students who answer part of the item correctly be given some credit for their correct responses. Of particular concern to educators have been items in which the student was told to provide “all correct responses” but was not told how many responses were required.

Since this issue was raised by educators several years ago, Department of Education staff have been working with the testing contractor to investigate the best way to address the concerns raised, including the possibility of implementing partial credit scoring. As a first step in addressing the concerns from teachers, all newly developed items which require multiple responses now specify how many responses are required. No additional items which require the student to provide all correct responses without specifying the required number of responses have been developed.

In addition, some existing items have been evaluated to determine whether they would be good candidates for a partial credit scoring model based on the skills and knowledge measured by the item. For example, an item that requires the students to provide different types of correct punctuation in four areas of a paragraph might be a good candidate for partial credit scoring while partial credit might not be appropriate for an item that requires students to solve an equation and fill in the blank with the answer.