Considerations for Universally Designed Assessment Items
Does the item measure what it intends to measure?
- Reflect the intended content standards (reviewers have information about the content being measured)?
- Minimize knowledge and skills required beyond what is intended for measurement?
Does the item respect the diversity of the assessment population?
- Sensitive to test taker characteristics and experiences (consider gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic level, region, disability, and language)?
- Avoid content that might unfairly advantage or disadvantage any student subgroup?
Is there a clear format for text?
- Is there a standard typeface?
- Twelve (12) point minimum size for all print, including captions, footnotes, and graphs (type size appropriate for age group), and adaptable font size for computers?
- Is there a high contrast between color of text and background?
- Are there sufficient blank spaces (leading) between lines of text?
- Are the margins staggered to the right, not just right justification?
Are there clear visuals — when essential to the item?
- Visuals are needed to answer the question?
- Visuals have clearly defined features (minimum use of gray scale and shading)?
- Sufficient contrast between colors?
- Color alone is not relied on to convey important information or distinctions?
- Visuals are labeled?
Is the text concise and readable?
- Commonly used words (except vocabulary being tested)?
- Vocabulary appropriate for grade level?
- Minimum use of unnecessary words?
- Idioms avoided unless idiomatic speech is being measured?
- Technical terms and abbreviations avoided (or defined) if not related to the content being measured?
- Sentence complexity is appropriate for grade level?
- Question to be answered is clearly identifiable?
Can changes to the format be made without changing the meaning or difficulty of the text? (This includes visual or memory load)?
- Allows for the use of braille or other tactile format?
- Allows for signing to a student?
- Allows for the use of oral presentation to a student?
- Allows for the use of assistive technology?
- Allows for translation into another language?
Source: Johnstone, C., Thurlow, M., Moore, M., & Altman, J. (2006). Using Systematic item selection methods to improve universal design of assessments (Policy Directions 18). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes. Retrieved February 2007, from the World Wide Web: http://education.umn.edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/Policy18/.