Assessment Highlights: Social Studies 30 Exams, 2004-2005
Alberta Education, Alberta, Canada

A couple times in my book I mentioned that
  • planning what you're going to write on the Free-Response items is valuable
  • responding to every part of every question is important
  • examples are vital parts of free-responses
  • it's crucial to answer the question you're presented with, NOT a question you wished you had been asked

It turns out that there's evidence from Canada to support my assertions. A report titled "Assessment Highlights" from Alberta Education describes "student strengths and weaknesses as demonstrated on the Social Studies 30 diploma examinations written in January and June 2005..."

In this evaluation, Alberta Education officials noted that
  • "How students chose to use the time provided may have influenced their level of achievement. Many students who achieved higher levels of success took the time for detailed planning and revisions to their final draft. Other students used the time allotted to provide essays of quantity rather than quality, often bringing in extraneous information. Students need to be aware that the marking process emphasizes the quality of a response rather than the quantity."

  • "...many of the students who received lower scores for the Topic A written-response question did not address the qualification 'during times of crisis' in their discussion of the assigned issue. As a result, many essays consisted of an over-generalized discussion of individual rights."

  • "Many higher-achieving students fashioned mature and insightful compositions that incorporated a wide range of real-world and theoretical examples."

  • "...a number of students seemed to have prepared to write their Part A essay with a pre-formulated response. ...many attempt unsuccessfully to adapt their pre-formulated response to fit the assigned topic... The result was often a low score or in the rare case, an Insufficient, which results in a score of zero."

-Social Studies 30: Assessment Highlights, 2004-2005 School Year, Alberta Education, www.education.gov.ab.ca/k_12/ testing/diploma/highlights/Soc30.pdf, 23 October, 2005

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