Commonwealth of Virginia

Standards of Learning Assessment Program

Blueprint for the Biology Test

©1997 by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education, James Monroe Building,

Standards of Learning (SOL) Test Blueprint

Introduction

What is a test blueprint?

A test blueprint is a guide for test construction and use. The Standards of Learning (SOL) test blueprints serve a number of purposes. One, they serve as a guide to test developers as they write test questions and construct the SOL tests. Two, they serve as a guide to educators, parents and students in that they show (a) the SOLs covered by the test and which, if any, have been excluded; (b) which SOLs are assigned to each reporting category; (c) the number of test items in each reporting category and on the total test; (d) general information about how the test questions were constructed; and (e) the materials that students are allowed to use while taking the test.

How is the test blueprint organized?

There is a blueprint for each test (e.g., grade 3 English, grade 5 mathematics, grade 8 science, U.S. History). Each blueprint contains the following information:

1. Test Development Guidelines: guidelines used by Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement and the members of the Content Review Committees in developing the SOL tests. This section contains three parts:

A. General Considerations — lists general considerations that were used in developing the test as well as considerations specific to a particular content area.

B. Item Format — lists information on how items for the test are constructed.

C. Ancillary Materials — lists any materials (e.g., calculators, rulers, protractors, compasses, dictionaries) that students are allowed to use while taking each test.

2. Blueprint Summary Table: a summary of the blueprint which displays the following information:

• reporting categories for each test;

• number of test items in each reporting category;

• Standards of Learning (SOLs) included in each reporting category. SOLs are identified by numbers and letters that correspond to the original SOL document (letters are assigned to the "bullets" in the original document);

• SOLs which are excluded from the SOL test;

• number of operational items on the test;

• number of field-test items on the test; and

• total number of items (operational and field-test items) on the test.

3. Expanded Blueprint: provides the same information as the Blueprint Summary Table except that the full text of each SOL is included. In addition, SOLs that are excluded from the test are categorized by the reason they were not included.

What is a reporting category?

Each test covers a number of SOLs. In the test blueprint, SOLs are grouped into categories that address related content or skills. These categories are labeled Reporting Categories. For example, a Reporting Category for the Grade 5 Mathematics test is "Computation and Estimation." Each of the SOLs in this reporting category addresses computation using addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division or require the student to estimate the answer to a problem. When the results of the SOL tests are reported, the scores will be presented in terms of scores for each Reporting Category and a total test score.

Are some SOLs assigned to more than one reporting category?

"Bullets" under a particular SOL are sometimes coded to different reporting categories. For example, the Science SOL 2.7a which deals with the effects that weather and seasonal changes have on the growth and behavior of living things is assigned to the reporting category "Life Processes and Living Systems" in the Grade 3 Science test. However, SOL 2.7b which deals with the effects of weather and seasonal changes on weathering and erosion of the land surface is assigned to the reporting category "Earth/Space Systems and Cycles." Each "bullet" is assigned to only one reporting category.

Why are some SOLs not tested on the SOL tests?

In some content areas, there are SOLs that do not lend themselves to multiple-choice testing. For example, in English, the oral language SOLs cannot be appropriately assessed in a multiple-choice format. In other cases, an SOL listed in one content area is covered by a similar SOL in another content area. For example, English SOL 4.9 which addresses the use of available technology to research a topic is covered by a similar SOL at grade 5 (Computer/Technology SOL C/T 5.3).

At the end of the blueprint for each test, the SOLs not tested are listed in "SOLs Excluded from Testing." In the expanded blueprint the SOLs excluded from testing are categorized by the reason they are not being tested.

Will all SOLs listed in the blueprint be assessed each time the SOL tests are given?

Due to the large number of SOLs in a content area for a grade span, every SOL will not be assessed on every SOL test form. By necessity, to keep the length of a test reasonable, each test will sample from the SOLs within a reporting category. However, every SOL is eligible for inclusion on each form of an SOL test.

Biology Test Development Guidelines

A. General Considerations

1. All items included in this test will address the knowledge and skills specified in the 1995 Virginia Standards of Learning in Biology.

2. The items will be free of stereotyping or bias directed at a particular age, gender, economic status, racial, ethnic or religious group, or geographic region.

3. The test will be untimed.

4. There is no penalty for guessing. Students will be scored on the number of correct answers out of the total number of operational items on the test.

5. The questions will be appropriate in terms of understandings and experiences that accompany an active science program.

6. Information will be presented through written text or through visual materials such as graphs, tables, models, or other illustrations.

7. Questions will require students to apply previously acquired knowledge and/or to use information that is provided in a prompt.

8. Measurements will be given in SI (metric), or English units where appropriate.

9. Students will be permitted scratch paper at any time during the test.

10. Students will be permitted to use 4-function calculators during the test.

11. Students will be permitted to use standard (e.g., inches) and metric rulers during the test.

B. Item Format

 

1. Each item will be a multiple-choice item containing four choices. Choices such as "None of the above," "All of the above," and "Not here" will not be used.

2. Answer choices will be given as written text, numerical expressions including appropriate units, graphics, or other appropriate expressions.

3. Artwork used as part of the question will occur above the question unless the size or format of the artwork lends itself to another arrangement for the sake of clarity.

4. Artwork used as answer choices will appear below the question.

C. Ancillary Materials

1. Rulers

2. Scratch paper

3. Calculators

Biology Blueprint Summary Table

Reporting Categories

No. of Items

SOLs

Scientific Investigation

11

BIO.1a-j

BIO.2e

Life at the Molecular and Cellular Level

14

BIO.2a, d

BIO.3a-d

BIO.4a-d

BIO.5f

BIO.6a-c, e-g

BIO.7d, e

Life at the Systems and Organisms Level

14

BIO.2b

BIO.5a-e, g

BIO.6d

BIO.7a, c, f, g

Interaction of Life Forms

11

BIO.2c

BIO.7b

BIO.8a-d

BIO.9a-e

SOLs Excluded from This Test: No SOLs are excluded.


Total Number of Operational Items

50

Field-Test Items*

10

Total Number of Items

60

*These field-test items will not be used to compute students’ scores

on the test.

Reporting Category: Scientific Investigation

Number of Items: 11

Biology SOLs in This Reporting Category:

BIO.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which

a) observations of living things are recorded in the lab and in the field;

b) hypotheses are formulated based on observations;

c) variables are defined and investigations are designed to test hypotheses;

d) graphing and arithmetic calculations are used as tools in data analysis;

e) conclusions are formed based on recorded quantitative and qualitative data;

f) impacts of sources of error inherent in experimental design are identified and discussed;

g) validity of data is determined;

h) alternative explanations and models are recognized and analyzed;

i) appropriate technology is used for gathering and analyzing data and communicating results; and

j) research is used based on popular and scientific literature.

BIO.2 The student will investigate and understand the history of biological concepts. Key concepts include

e) the collaborative efforts of scientists, past and present.

Reporting Category: Life at the Molecular and Cellular Level

Number of Items: 14

Biology SOLs in This Reporting Category:

BIO.2 The student will investigate and understand the history of biological concepts. Key concepts include

a) evidence supporting the cell theory; and

d) the evolution of the DNA model.

BIO.3 The student will investigate and understand biochemical principles essential for life. Key concepts include

a) water chemistry and its impact on life processes;

b) the structure and function of macromolecules;

c) the nature of enzymes; and

d) the significance of and relationship between photosynthesis and respiration.

Reporting Category: Life at the Molecular and Cellular Level

Number of Items: 14

Biology SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

BIO.4 The student will investigate and understand relationships between cell structure and function. Key concepts include

a) characterizing prokaryotic organisms;

b) exploring the diversity and variation of eukaryotes;

c) building analogies between the activities of a single cell and a whole organism; and

d) modeling the cell membrane, cell communication, and cell recognition.

BIO.5 The student will investigate and understand life functions of monerans, protists, fungi, plants, and animals, including humans. Key concepts include

f) how viruses compare with organisms.

BIO.6 The student will investigate and understand common mechanisms of inheritance and protein synthesis. Key concepts include

a) cell division;

b) sex cell formation;

c) cell specialization;

e) effects of genetic recombination and mutation;

f) events involved in the construction of proteins; and

g) exploration of the impact of DNA technologies.

BIO.7 The student will investigate and understand bases for modern classification systems. Key concepts include

d) examination of protein similarities and differences among organisms; and

a) comparison of DNA sequences in organisms.

Reporting Category: Life at the Systems and Organisms Level

Number of Items: 14

Biology SOLs in This Reporting Category:

BIO.2 The student will investigate and understand the history of biological concepts. Key concepts include

b) scientific explanations of the development of organisms through time.

Reporting Category: Life at the Systems and Organisms Level

Number of Items: 14

Biology SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

BIO.5 The student will investigate and understand life functions of monerans, protists, fungi, plants, and animals, including humans. Key concepts include

a) how their structures are alike and different;

b) comparison of their metabolic activities;

c) analyses of their responses to the environment;

d) maintenance of homeostasis;

e) human health issues, human anatomy, body systems, and life functions; and

g) observation of local organisms when applicable.

BIO.6 The student will investigate and understand common mechanisms of inheritance and protein synthesis. Key concepts include

d) prediction of inheritance of traits based on the laws of heredity.

BIO.7 The student will investigate and understand bases for modern classification systems. Key concepts include

a) structural similarities in organisms;

c) comparison of developmental stages in different organisms;

f) systems of classification that are adaptable to new scientific discoveries; and

g) examination of local flora and fauna where applicable.

Reporting Category: Interaction of Life Forms

Number of Items: 11

Biology SOLs in This Reporting Category:

BIO.2 The student will investigate and understand the history of biological concepts. Key concepts include

c) causative agents of disease.

BIO.7 The student will investigate and understand bases for modern classification systems. Key concepts include

b) fossil record interpretation.

Reporting Category: Interaction of Life Forms

Number of Items: 11

Biology SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

BIO.8 The student will investigate and understand how populations change through time. Key concepts include

a) examining evidence found in fossil records;

b) investigating how variation of traits, reproductive strategies, and environmental pressures impact on the survival of populations;

c) recognizing how adaptations lead to natural selection; and

d) exploring how new species emerge.

BIO.9 The student will investigate and understand dynamic equilibria within populations, communities, and ecosystems. Key concepts include

a) interactions within and among populations including carrying capacities, limiting factors, and growth curves;

b) nutrient cycling with energy flow through ecosystems;

c) succession patterns in ecosystems;

d) the effects of natural events and human influences on ecosystems; and

analysis of local ecosystems.