Regents Exams: Mathematics – Guidelines for Writing Items

Students working together

Guidelines for Writing Math Items

With the transition to the New York P-12 Common Core State Standards (CCSS), significant changes have been made to the New York State Testing Program (NYSTP). The 2014 Regents Examination in Algebra I (Common Core) will measure the CCSS for Mathematics. This test will approach Mathematics differently from past assessments.

Item writing is a crucial aspect of test development. To help ensure consistent and rigorous interpretation and measurement of the CCSS for Mathematics, the state has articulated criteria for developing test questions (items). These guidelines for writing multiple-choice and constructed-response items serve to ensure that the items included on operational exams meet certain standards for alignment to curriculum, fairness, clarity, and overall quality.

How the Item-Writing Guidelines Are Used
One of many steps employed to help ensure a valid, fair, and quality assessment is the use of guidelines to draft questions. Draft questions that meet these criteria are allowed to move forward in the development process. The next step is for the items to be reviewed, and edited when necessary, by a Committee of certified New York State educators [1]. Only items that are approved by the educator panel are allowed to be field-tested.

[1] To volunteer to participate in NYSED Educator Item Reviews:

How Educators Can Use the Item Writing Guidelines to Design Assessments or Modify Instruction
The Item-Writing Guidelines can also serve as a helpful tool as educators develop assessment items and instructional activities. In order to ensure that assessment items and instructional activities align with the CCSS, they must adhere to the specific guidelines found in the Guidelines for Writing Items.

Downloadable Resources

Resources may contain links to sites external to the website. These sites may not be within the jurisdiction of NYSED and in such cases NYSED is not responsible for its content.