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Investing in Item Banks

Neil Reid

Mid-year exams are looming, and Mr Davey has a paper to set for his senior maths class. Going to his classroom store cupboard he drags down a battered manilla folder labelled 'Exams', bulging with dog-eared and yellowing papers. He flicks through the top few copies looking for last year's senior mid-year exam and the ones for the three years previous. On a sheet of lined paper he copies out those questions with double ticks or SSFG (sorted sheep from goats) written in the margin. He studiously avoids those with large crosses alongside or marginal notes of 'hopeless', 'too hard', 'diagram problem', and 'takes too long'. In 30 minutes he had his mid-year exam ready to take along to the school secretary for typing. Mr Davey has, in fact, been using his own embryonic, and rather crude item bank.

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