In an educational setting, a teacher uses a table of specification to develop a test that adequately covers the material taught in a specific unit. The test lists the standards or objectives taught in the unit and the number of questions that test that specific concept.
Tables of specification can be as simple as lists of the concepts covered in a unit, each with a corresponding number representing the number of test questions on that concept. More complicated tables feature multiple columns showing different types of test questions requiring differing levels of thinking skills along with the precise number of points allotted for each question type.
Both simple and complex tables of specification help teachers develop assessments that leave nothing out and cover topics in a fair and unbiased manner. Although it is not always possible to cover everything, teachers who use a table of specification are more likely to evaluate the most important areas ahead of trivial details. The table also ensures that the most important areas of study have the most questions worth the most points on the test.
Some schools request that teachers use tables of specification when creating their own tests to avoid biases. District and state curriculum guidelines, textbook content and lesson plans help teachers develop fair tables of specification.