HEAP Health Literacy: FAQ

Why and how were the HEAP assessment items developed?

The assessment items were developed to provide resources that educators could use to develop test instruments that document effectiveness in teaching and learning in health education.

The Health Education Assessment Project (HEAP) created the Assessment Framework which became a concise blueprint to guide education specialists in developing assessment items based on the National Health Education Standards (NHES). The Assessment Framework ensured that assessment items addressed what students should know (content) and be able to do (skills) in health education.

The Assessment Framework, published in 1998, provided the overall infrastructure for item writers to develop modules of assessment items in nine content areas linked to the skills outlined in the NHES. The framework was organized by grade levels. Four types of assessment items are included in the bank: selected response (multiple choice), short answer, extended response (essay), and performance tasks.

HEAP developed the Assessment Framework in several stages to ensure comprehensiveness and to establish priorities. A small working group made up of health educators, public health educators, CDC officials, and assessment experts developed the initial concept for the Draft Framework. To develop the Draft Framework the working group examined important documents influencing school health education such as:

  • CDC guidelines
  • School Health Policies and Program Study data
  • Youth Risk Behavior questions
  • National Health Education Standards
  • Research-based health education curricula

Based on this review the working group developed a draft of content descriptors. Also developed were sub-descriptors which were meant to be illustrative rather than comprehensive. A larger expert panel was then convened to review the Draft Framework and prioritize the skills aligned to the content descriptors as Essential, Important, Supported, or Suggested. The Framework was then finalized and published.