Lesson 1: Why Assessment Practices Needed To Change
You’ll learn:
 Why past assessment practices are archaic and need to change;
 What our classrooms could look like.
Make Math Moments Academy › Forums › Lesson 1: Why Assessment Practices Needed To Change – Discussion Prompt
Tagged: Assessment, for, growth

Lesson 1: Why Assessment Practices Needed To Change – Discussion Prompt

What was your big take away from this particular lesson?
What is something you are still wondering?
Share your thinking below.

Hi, my name is Stacy. I spent 11 years teaching 612 grade math courses until I decided to try something new. I am now an instructor at a community college in Utah were a teach College Algebra and remedial math courses. What I find the majority of my students have in common is a poor attitude about math (something I have faced before) and a lack of understanding of the basics (something I did not face before since I was their teacher for so many years). Now with the limited time of a college semester I am looking forward to using the ideas from make math moments to refresh myself as the teach I once was from the lecturing teacher I have become at the college level.

I think I found the perfect course for my goal! YAY!

Hi, my name is Mary Alice Ali and I currently teach grade 9 math. I started relaxing my rigid marking of assessments last year but it is this year that I am letting students rewrite assessments to show me they know and to incorporate other forms of math assessments such as projects. I started listening to the make math moments podcast sometime this year. And I am just happy I found the podcasts. My big take away from listening to Kyle today is that I am ready for change so let’s get started.

I know assessment needs to change in my grade 3 classroom. Several years ago my district moved to “common assessments” and a hybrid/rotational teaching model. This has not worked well for my learners…now I have a clearer picture of why that is. I’m looking forward to learning ways to make the necessary changes.

I spend so much time math talking with my students that I feel our conversations are more of an assessment than a quiz or test. I look forward to learning how to revamp my assessment practices to reflect our talks.

Biggest takeaway: Thinking about most memorable math moments. this would be a great activity to ask students at the start of the year, then again at the end. Interesting that most of their time they are negative. I’m going to use this as a social experiment with friends and colleagues.
Still wondering: Looking forward to diving deeper into the purpose of the mini course. Also, how to change my style into less tests and assignments, but at the same time that is what the board wants to see? Not to mention standardized tests. This change in assessment needs to happen globally, and to think locally might lead to discipline issues from the higher ups.

My biggest takeaway was that the poor practice of ordering by assessment still occurs. :/ Math seems to be one of those subjects that has such a negative connotation. I hate that ordering by assessment just buries some of those students even further and pushes them away from the fun of mathematics. Math is fun. That is why we call it “Funamatics”, right? 🙂

I already let students correct homework assignments and they can retake test but not many take advantage of this until the end of a quarter when they see they are 23% from the next grade then it is a rush of homework corrections. I want this to be something students see as a benefit to them as a math student not just as a way to improve a mark in the grade book.

My big takeaway is that I need to lead a “rebellion” as to how we (teachers) are required to assign grades!

I am looking forward to learning more about growth days!

This is so timely as we transition to distance learning with no evaluation, only assessment for learning. I am excited to learn more how to incorportate growth days online.

I love the idea of using grades to push for growth, and studentdirected growth. This year, I’ve been grading only summative assessments, or recording bestofthree quiz grades, and I’ve been using formatives for feedback. Students have been able to do retakes, but it’s not been systematized, and it’s been on their time (which doesn’t motivate ALL students toward growth). I made charts for students to track their progress, but never found the time to use them.
In short, it’s been largely an unfocused scramble! I think I’m heading in the right direction, but I want a more systematized and methodical framework for next year.
Holly

An “unsystematized scramble” is where most start this process, so don’t fret!
If the goal is to use assessment to push learning forward, “summative” becomes a word you only use at the end of a grade or course.
Always remember, what students knew in the past is not very relevant for a summative mark now. It works both ways though – if they no longer understand the concept, does it make sense to give them a mark based on something they did 3 months ago?
It’s a big shift in thinking, but it’s great to see so many in this forum on the same journey with us!


I look forward to all of these lessons and modules. The teachers I work with must shift assessment practices and this should give some actionable ideas for making that shift.

I feel like many of us are trapped in traditional ways of thinking about assessment, even though they no longer correspond with our teaching practices. Teaching remotely is really going to challenge our assumptions around grading. I’m looking forward to the learning!

Much like the other participants have responded, I am interested to see how virtual learning and not having the high stakes testing at the end of the year will change perceptions. I have tried various things throughout the years to give students the opportunity to redo a test or quiz but it always get lost, either by them trying to keep up with current work or me not being able to reach back for them at times.
I love this idea of using assessment only to “drive our instruction to help students learn the math concepts better and with more depth” and finding ways to incorporate it in a workable way in a classroom. I would say that is the question I have right now, but am sure this course will give me more insights on how to do that.

That this is exactly what I needed to get better at and I can’t wait to get going!

I have seen this before in the MMM course. I have always used test/quiz data to decide whether to pivot or move on or usually both…part of class pivots with one teacher while rest of class explores. We already allow retakes of tests and quizzes but a majority of students do not do much better. Usually they do worse even with required review. I like the idea of only testing on the objectives of the test they got wrong and retesting by having students explain problems instead of having to redo test and regrade.

All teachers had hee same experience of evaluating final supposedly understanding of lessons rather than the concepts. WE never realised that students’ process of understanding of the concept was more important than getting the final answer to the given problem. Little did we know that our assessment practises was stressing them out. For other teachers for young learners, it was more of display of work for the soft boards.

Assessments keep changing and not always for the best. Although standardized testing is one way to monitor students understanding and knowledge of curriculum, it has also created stress for students and worry for the parents. I remember when we had no marks on the report cards in the elementary years. Less stressful for the students as the focus was not on marks but instead meeting the expectations. Some students sadly are getting brides or comments like if you get all A’s then we will get you a puppy …..

@natalievanwyngaarden Thanks for sharing. Yes, the bribing and external incentives may look like they work on the surface but are detrimental to students developing a life long love of learning. In high school I often hear students getting money for As!


The big takeaway: Right now, I am a little overwhelmed with how this will practically take form. I am eager and thankful I chose this as my first course with the Academy. I am thankful there are other educators that want to use assessment as a learning flexible tool! I have a deep desire to unleash the power of assessment for my students.
Wondering: How will this look like in my classroom? I guess I should keep watching and working thought this course! 🙂

@rebasalonek You’re so right that we need to use assessment as a tool. Too many teachers use it as a “stick” or end goal.
We’re ready to work with you as you develop what this looks like in your classroom.


Our school is in the process of shifting to Standards Based Gradebooks. We have been in the process for a couple of years and this year the actual change to gradebooks and reporting happens.
I’m nervous about the admin and the process. I’ve seen the merits of SBG for a while and even attempted to implement it in my own classroom on my own. I’m frustrated right now with the requirement that we use the language of the common core in our standards and group grades based on them rather than clear topics.
I’m hoping to find things in this course that will help me to implement things as the school requires, but in a way that is beneficial for the students. I’ve definitely always done most of my grading with tests and quizzes, allowing retakes that only benefit the few students that really push to improve.
I’m also nervous about my colleagues, we are a small school with only 3 of us in the department, and 1 especially can be resistant to change. She has GREAT teaching practices and a lot of experience and knowledge, but our styles sometimes clash.

These are all valid concerns…
You’re right that SBG is a great way to approach the assessment and evaluation process, but sometimes district requirements can get in the way. The one silver lining about some of their restrictions with feedback / reporting is that I think by looking / reflecting more on the actual common core standards, you might gain deeper insight and understanding of what they really mean. There are some interesting pieces to navigate (ie: ratio and rate reasoning… it’s hard to comment with that language if I’m not certain what ratio reasoning and rate reasoning is).
Another part is trying to find a way to align your practices with your colleagues. This might involve some give and take, which is super challenging.
Keep us posted on how things are progressing and how we can best help!


I am looking forward to learning more as I was a part of Assessment Literacy. We teachers were coached to learn the value of a well written test and then to teach our students what each of us can learn from the assessment.

I’m curious to hear what you find similar and what you find different as you continue along!


I am so excited. This sounds exactly like what I am trying to do in my class.

I’m always looking for ways to improve assessment so that they truly reflect student’s understanding. One of my challenges is reporting this information to parents through grading which I am required to do.

What does your current system for keeping parents informed look like?


Now that we do not have a textbook to hand out it is an opportunity to be creative with how we teach. This can be intimidating but exciting. I remember how I used to teach and I am looking forward to learning more about how to change my ways. I am wondering how much work will go into this new way of grading.

@reneetrad
You’re right to wonder how much work. I’m sure it will be “some” work as anything worth pursuing will require it….but it will be worth it.


We have used “Standards Based Grading” in the elementary grades for years and are looking to extend it to the secondary very soon. I say we are doing it, but some grades/teachers still get the grade to report from one assessment. I am excited for this course and the insights I will gain to help lead my district in the correct direction.

Fantastic! I feel similarly in my district… we have some who are taking this approach, but many who are not yet. It’s a slow process, but it will come over time.


I want students to understand, use, love and appreciate math. In the way we assess them we are not getting them where we want. current assessment practices create math stress and phobia. Change is a must at all grade levels.

👏 @salamlotfi We look forward to your journey around assessment!


Professionally and personally I have been entering into this space of reevaluating old teaching practices which were stale for me and stale for my students. Over the past few years with my own scattered research I have moved my classes to standard based grading so I am looking forward to seeing the model presented in the module. In addition, I already embrace the teaching methodology of getting students mentally and verbally engaged with their math activities but lack additional resources to create more events to keep students excited about math and learning. I am one of only two people on my staff that is in this process of change and I look forward to sharing it with others.

It can be so hard with so few “complete” resources out there that hit all of the different aspects of mathematics teaching – curiosity, sense making and following a developmental trajectory. It is really complex stuff.
Hopefully you’ll check out our problem based units to help you in this journey learn.makemathmoments.com/tasks


I 100% agree about the purpose of assessment. I wonder, do you think instructional practices have to/should change first before changes in assessment mindset? Struggling to get my teachers to get away from what I would call a more traditional math mindset of needing as many “at bats” as possible and “modeling” problems as our key strategy. I think teachers feel comfortable in it. Do you think that has to change before changes in belief about assessment can happen?

Great question, Chris! I’ve had some really good discussions with educators who believe that one should happen before the other. Chicken or the egg situation. However, in a perfect world, they’d both be shifting together in my opinion. It’s hard to do one of them well while the other is lagging behind in approach/practice. Since assessment and evaluation should inform our instruction, it might make sense to start there and think “how do I get them here? What learning experiences should we give them to achieve these learning goals?”


I have been working to change my assessment practices to allow for mastery of student skills over time rather than the set date I decided. I’m excited to learn more about how to use this style of assessment with my students.
What I am still wondering is, since it’s the middle of the school year, is it too late to change my assessment practices? Can I dive into this now?

Great to hear Carrie! I would make some changes now! Especially some of the changes toward mindset, like here in module 1, and also the formative assessment strategies in module 2. When you get to standards based grading you might be able to make some changes now (you’ll have to see what you could modify based on your current system) and think about how you’ll make those changes come next school year.


I am planning on using the information from this course to open up the discussion of students’ math strengths at School Support Team meetings. A group of educators have come together to support the growth mindset of teachers around students who seem to be not achieving in math.
What do we need to do in order to improve the discussion around how the student is showing their learning, and teachers are assessing this knowledge?

Great idea @laradonsky I’m looking forward to hearing how the ideas help support the work your teachers are doing.
I’m sure when you get to Module 2 you’ll see strategies that support eliciting student thinking.

Hi @laradonsky!
Growing Success is such a great guide for assessment and evaluation. Sadly, I feel that more than a decade after its release, many are still nowhere near implementing what is shared in that document.
We have a lot of district coaches, mentors and coordinators leveraging many of the resources from the Academy to help lead learning with their educator teams. If you’re interested in a district license so educators can continue the learning outside of your meetings, don’t hesitate to reach out!


I am wondering how to assess the math practices! These are so important–maybe this minicourse will address it!

All about observations and conversations! Keep on going and if you still have questions related to these ideas near the end, be sure to bring them up!


As a facilitator supporting teachers in the classroom I am constantly making teachers aware of some of the unintended consequences of activities like Round the World.
My biggest takeaway is remembering to always ask. Who is this activity helping grow a positive mathematical identity is it the ones who are already confident and who can articulate their mathematical thinking easily or is it supporting all students?

I like this take on who it’s helping @carolbutel ! I’ll be using that line in my discussions from now on!

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