Hononegah teacher to help create rigorous high school exam
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ROCKTON, ILL. Advance Placement tests have a reputation as being among the most rigorous that high school students can take. If you think the tests are tough, imagine what it’s like to create the tests.
That’s what a Hononegah High School teacher has in front of him after being selected to help test students’ knowledge of U.S. history.
James Sabathne and three other high school teachers and four college professors are in the process of rewriting the Advanced Placement U.S. history test. Sabathne and the other instructors were nominated by the College Board to help rewrite the test.
“I don’t know who nominated me or where or why, but they put together a list of nominees, and I got selected by the College Board,” Sabathne said.
Advance Placement, or AP courses, help students develop critical-thinking skills in a college-level course environment. Students who perform well on the tests are eligible to receive college credit at most universities. As part of the AP U.S. history course, students discuss topics such as American identity, economic transformations, globalization and war and diplomacy.
Sabathne said he and the other educators have been meeting regularly to discuss the test. The group conducted their first face-to-face meeting in September in Philadelphia. The group also has conducted several web conferences and plan to have more face-to-face meetings in the near future. During the meetings, the teachers and the professors review potential questions to put on the test.
“We put together sample questions and test them and retest them,” Sabathne said. “The goal is to decide what we want the test to look like. When we meet in person, we go over the items and then we review the materials during the web conferences.”
The group will continue to meet during the next few years so that the test will be ready to be implemented in 2015. Sabathne said he and the other instructors want to make sure all the questions are fair for the students to answer. AP exams mostly include multiple-choice questions and free-response questions.
“When we review the questions, we look to see if it meets the framework of the curriculum, and that it goes along with the curriculum. We also want to make sure that the questions lead the students to one correct answer, and they’re not gender biased or biased toward a certain group of students,” Sabathne said. “We want to make sure the language is clear. We want to make sure we’re putting in items that work well with students as a whole.”
Sabathne said being selected to help rewrite the AP history test provides some recognition for Hononegah High School, as well.