National Institute of Educational Testing Services (NIETS) director Dr Samphan Phanphrut yesterday defended questions included in the recent national test that have been widelycriticised.
“The panels that designed the questions had clear objectives,” Samphan said, “but of course, we welcome all comments”.
This year, the Ordinary National Educational Test (Onet) for Health Education subject for Mathayom 6 students has drawn criticism and ridicule after young people posted on Web sites questions many found strange.
One question was, “If you have a sexual urge, what should you do?" The available alternatives were: a) Ask friends if you can play football together; b) Consult family members; c) Try to sleep; d) Go out with a friend of the opposite sex; or e) Invite a close friend to watch a movie together.
Critics pointed out that both "a" and "b" could be taken as correct answers for boys; furthermore, in the case of most girls, "a" would be a strange option, and therefore not a viable choice.
However, Samphan yesterday said “a” was the correct answer.
He explained this question was intended to check whether the students understood the nature of sexual desire and how to control or respond to it.
“This question is a part of the content about sex education and family life,” Samphan said.
He added that the question about “transvestic behaviour” – which also drew flak – was intended to test the memory of students because the term had been defined in their textbooks.
“In response to the criticism, I have invited the questiondesign panel for the Health Education subject to provide an explanation,” Samphan said.
He explained NIETS had designed the questions for Onet in line with the curriculum of the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) and in response to indicators highlighted by Obec.
“Based on what is provided by Obec, our invited specialists have developed test blue prints and item specifications,” Samphan said.
He said schoolteachers, school directors, chiefs of academic subjects at schools were recruited for workshops where they could improve the test blueprint and specific items.
“Obec teachers have taken part in the designing of the tests in all subjects,” Samphan said.
He pointed out that Obec chose question designers from its pool of teachers and they came from various regions.
“After the teachers design the questions, university lecturers with expertise in those subjects then step in as speakers to advise and screen the questions,” Samphan said. “After that, testdesign and screening committees for each subject will work out the final sets of questions for the tests”.
A total of 397,177 students sat the ONet tests last weekend. Mathayom 6 students take the tests seriously because their scores are a factor in the universityadmission system.