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Dr. Marciano B.

University of Ha’il, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
May 2013
A Table of Specifications is a two-way
chart which describes the topics to be
covered by a test and the number of
items or points which will be associated
with each topic.
 Kubiszyn & Borich, (2003) emphasized
the following significance and
components of TOS:
1. A Table of Specifications consists of a two-
way chart or grid relating instructional
objectives to the instructional content.
The column of the chart lists the objectives
or "levels of skills" (Gredlcr, 1999) to be
The rows list the key concepts or content
the test is to measure.
According to Bloom, et al. (1971),
"We have found it useful to represent the
relation of content and behaviors in the
form of a two dimensional table with the
objectives on one axis, the content on the
2. A Table of Specifications identifies not
only the content areas covered in class, it
identifies the performance objectives at
each level of the cognitive domain of
Bloom's Taxonomy.

Teachers can be assured that they are measuring students'

learning across a wide range of content and readings as
well as cognitive processes requiring higher order thinking.
3. A Table of Specifications is developed before the
test is written. In fact it should be constructed
before the actual teaching begins.
4. The purpose of a Table of Specifications
is to identify the achievement domains
being measured and to ensure that a fair
and representative sample of questions
appear on the test.
Carey (1988) pointed out that the time
available for testing depended not only
on the length of the class period but also
on students' attention spans.
1. A true-false test item takes 15 seconds to
answer unless the student is asked to
provide the correct answer for false
questions. Then the time increases to
30-45 seconds.

2. A seven item matching exercise takes

60-90 seconds.
3. A four response multiple choice test
item that asks for an answer regarding a
term, fact, definition, rule or principle
(knowledge level item) takes 30 seconds.
The same type of test item that is at the
application level may take 60 seconds.
4. Any test item format that requires
solving a problem, analyzing,
synthesizing information or evaluating
examples adds 30-60 seconds to a question.
5. Short-answer test items take 30-45 seconds.

6. An essay test takes 60 seconds for each

point to be compared and contrasted.
If an individual can perform the most
difficult aspects of the objective, the
instructor can "assume" the lower levels
can be done.
However, if testing the lower levels,
the instructor cannot "assume" the
individual can perform the higher levels.
The cornerstone of classroom
assessment practices is the validity of the
judgments about students’ learning and
A TOS is one tool that teachers can
use to support their professional
judgment when creating or selecting test
for use with their students.
In order to understand how to best
modify a TOS to meet your needs, it is
important to understand the goal of this
strategy: improving validity of a teacher’s
evaluations based on a given assessment.
Validity is the degree to which the
evaluations or judgments we make as
teachers about our students can be trusted
based on the quality of evidence we
gathered (Wolming
& Wilkstrom, 2010).
From the literatures we have known that
standardized tests are valid.
The question needs to he asked if GPAs
are a valid measures of student
GPAs are based in large measure on
teacher made tests. If teacher made tests
are not valid, how can a students GPA be
The use of a Table of Specifications can
provide teacher made tests validity (Notar,
Charles, 2004).
Lei, Bassiri and Schultz,(2001) found
that a college GPA was an unreliable
predictor of student achievement. Since
we assume that norm referenced tests are
valid measures, the tendency is to put
more weight on those results concerning
student achievement.
According to Ooster (2003) the
faculty made tests will likely have
poor content validity, "cause for
concern because each assessment
instrument depends on its validity
more than on any other factor."
A Table of Specifications benefits students in two
First, it improves the validity of
teacher-made tests.
Second, it can improve student
learning as well.
A Table of Specifications helps to
ensure that there is a match between
what is taught and what is tested.
Classroom assessment should be driven
by classroom teaching which itself is
driven by course goals and objectives.

Tables of Specifications provide the

link between teaching and testing.
(University of Kansas, 2013)
Teachers can collaborate with students ,
teachers or colleagues on the construction
of the Table of Specifications:
 what are the main ideas and topics,
 what emphasis should be placed on each topic,
 what should be on the test?

Open discussion and negotiation of

these issues can encourage higher levels of
understanding while also modeling good
learning and study skills.