States were asked to report on the types of assessment items or tasks that comprise the assessments in mathematics and science for one elementary grade and for one assessment in high school (either comprehensive or EOC).

Categories for reporting item/task types across states were tested in the design pilot study. Our technical advisers recommended reporting with specific categories, i.e., going beyond broad categories such as performance task, technology enhanced, or select response. Thus, the reporting categories for types of items or tasks are the following.

  • Multiple choice, single correct response
  • Multiple choice, multiple correct responses
  • Matching tables
  • Drag and drop
  • Table fill-in (math)
  • Gridded response
  • Graphing (math)
  • Equation/Numeric (math)
  • Hot spot
  • Short answer
  • Extended response
  • Fill-in blank (science)
  • Interactive computer tasks (science)
  • Simulation (science)
  • Hands-on tasks (science)

Grade 5 Mathematics Assessment Item Types: Percentage of assessment points by type 2017-18 

  *Note that the percentage of points for each state may not add up to 100%.

For the 2017-18 school year, 38 states and the District of Columbia reported on the design of their grade 5 mathematics assessments.

  • Multiple choice/single correct. In 20 states, 25 to 40 percent of the assessment points were based on multiple choice/single answer items, and in nine of the reporting states, between 50-95 percent of the points were multiple choice items. In three states this item type accounted for 100 percent of the points on the math assessment.
  • Multiple choice/multiple answers. Twenty-four states reported using multiple choice item formats that had multiple correct answers. For 14 of these states, 1 to 5 percent of the assessment points were based on this type of item while for three states, while for four states 6 to 24 percent of the assessment points were based on this item type, and for six states, 25-40 percent of the assessment points were based on this item type.
  • Computer-based assessments provided for multiple item formats. For example, equation/numeric items comprised between 10 to 45 percent of the assessment points in 15 states. Matching tables were used in 19 states and comprised from 1 to 15 percent of the assessment points, and Hot-spot, Drag-drop, and Graphing items comprised from 5 to 10 percent of points in about two-thirds of the state assessments.
  • Short-answer items were used in 27 states used to capture from 1 to 26 percent of assessment points, with most being closer to 5 to 10 percent of the points.
  • Extended response. Open-end math items were used in 14 states and comprised from 5 to 30 percent of the assessment points. A modest number of states also used drag/drop, table fill-in, graphing, and hot spot for approximately 5 percent of assessment points for each type.

State Math Assessments High School, Item Types  

A variety of item types were used in 2017-18 high school math assessments, as reported for 33 states and DC.

  • Multiple choice/single answer items accounted for 100 percent of the points on high school math assessments in 5 states, 50 to 96 percent of the points in 13 states and 25 to 40 percent of the points in 10 states.
  • Matching tables were used in seven states with 10 to 20 percent of points, and nine states reported using table fill-in items comprising 5 to 10 percent of points.
  • Varied math item formats. Five states reported that 22 percent of assessment points were gained from grid items, and, in nine states, graphing items accounted for between 5-10 percent of assessment points. Equation/numeric items accounted for 20 to 30 percent of points in 8 states, and Hot spot items accounted for between 4 and 15 percent of assessment points in 5 states.
  • Constructed response: In 16 states, short answer items comprised between 2 and 37 percent of the assessment points. Twelve states used extended answer items for between that counted for from 5 to 40 percent of the assessment points.

Science Types of Items/Tasks in Grade 4 or 5 Assessments: Percentage of Total Assessment Points (2017-18)

In 2017-18 across 28 states reporting, science assessments for grades 4 or 5 were largely comprised of multiple choice items.


  • Multiple choice/single answer. In 8 states (half of those reporting), 100 percent of the points were based on this type of item. In another three states, 80 percent or more of the points were based on multiple choice/single answer items. 
  • Constructed response. Two assessment systems used short-answer constructed items accounting for 30-38 percent of the science assessment points, and five states used extended response items for 2 to 32 percent of points. One state (MN) used simulation tasks. No states reported using interactive computer tasks or hands-on tasks.
  • Simulation tasks. One state (MN) used simulation tasks. No states reported using interactive computer tasks or hands-on tasks.
  • Number of item types. Most states used one or two item types on their science assessment (nine used one type and six used two types). One state used three types, another used four types and one state used six types.

State Science Assessments, Item Types, Grade 4/5  

In 21 states that reported on high school science assessment items and tasks, science assessments for 2017-18 were largely comprised of multiple choice/single answer items.

  • Multiple choice/single answer. In 10 states, 100 percent of the points were based on this type of item. In another two states, 80 percent or more of the points were based on multiple choice/single answer items and in four states less than 80 percent of the points were based on this item type.
  • Constructed response. Three states used extended response items for 20 to 33 percent of points. One state (MN) used simulation tasks. One state (Minnesota) reported using simulation, interactive computer tasks or hands-on tasks.
  • Number of item types. Most states used one or two item types on their science assessment (ten used one type and four used two types). One state used three types, another used four types and one state used six types.