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  • Assessment Challenges

    Posted by Nicholas Rhodes on June 23, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    Hello Everyone! I am an Algebra 1 teacher for a cyber school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My biggest challenge is implementing an effective assessment system. I am currently using a standards-based grading approach. I have a rough draft model that represents how I might want to implement it; however, I need input from other teachers on how I can improve it. I am also curious to know the models that other teachers use to assess their students. Here is my current model:
    I normally begin introducing a topic with a 3-act math task, a visual writing prompt, a notice and wonder or a Desmos activity. After a class discussion and we work on some examples (to build procedural knowledge), it is time to provide an assessment to see where the students are at with regards to that particular learning goal. I give each student what I call a “learning goal assessment”. The assessment contains 1 or 2 open ended problems and are completed in a program called OneNote (digital notebook). Students are required to show and explain their work. The assessment is given in class and they have as much time as they need to complete the assessment. When students complete the assessment, they are then given the rest of the class period to complete level up tasks on prior learning goals. I have been using open middle problems (www.openmiddle.com) for the level up tasks. During the next two evenings, I review each of the students learning goal assessments and provide either a check -, check or check + based on the work they displayed. If a student’s work is incomplete, they receive a check -. If a student’s work is complete but has not shown proficiency, then they receive a check. If a student earns a proficient rating they receive a check +. As I review each of the student responses to the learning goal assessment, I write down any common errors or misconceptions that I see. I usually need two evenings to review all the students work. At this point I don’t assign a grade in the gradebook. The following class period I take all the students who received a check – or a check and we discuss the learning goal assessment using the common errors and misconceptions to reteach the concept. For the students who received a check +, they work on their level up tasks on prior learning goals (to get mastery status). Once the class period concludes the students who received a check – or a check are required to fix the learning goal assessment and submit it in the LMS for further review. If everything looks good then they are permitted to begin working on their level up tasks. So, here are some questions I have:
    • It is impossible to leave individual feedback for every single task that students complete. Do you feel that taking a quick look at each students work, jotting down common errors and misconceptions and using that to reteach is an effective strategy? I am not writing down every mistake students are making, but I feel that each student will be able to take what they learn from this and fix their mistakes.
    • What should I do if students are absent when I giving the class a learning goal assessment? My game plan was to have the student complete the learning goal assessment after school hours and then provide them the class link (live classes are recorded and can be viewed later) to the review.
    • How many levels should I have? Here is what I have right now. Each learning goal assessment is worth 10 points.
    0 = student did not complete the learning goal assessment or is incomplete
    5 = student completed the learning goal assessment but did not achieve proficiency
    8 = student displayed proficiency on the learning goal assessment and is now ready to complete the level 2 task
    9 = student completed the level 2 task and after teacher review is ready for the level 3 task
    10 = student mastered the learning goal.
    • Do you think it is appropriate to leave individual feedback on level 2 and level 3 tasks? I think this is more manageable than having to leave individual feedback on the learning goal assessments and all the level up tasks.
    I think I am going to end here and see what everyone has to say. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I am looking forward to using my experiences to help others who may need some ideas on other class challenges.

    Jon replied 3 years, 2 months ago 6 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
  • Jon

    Administrator
    June 25, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Hey Nick and everyone, I’m pinning this to the top of the Water Cooler so we can take a moment and comment on Nick’s questions. I’ll leave it pinned for a couple of days then I’ll chime in with my thoughts. 

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by  Jon Orr.
  • Kate Nielsen

    Member
    June 25, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    Hi Nicholas.  I teach Math 6, 7, 8.  I just have a couple of questions: 1) What do you mean by Level 2 and Level 3 Tasks?  2) How do you grade your students if they have the correct answer but didn’t show any work?

    • Nicholas Rhodes

      Member
      June 26, 2019 at 10:06 am

      Hi Kate!  Thanks for responding.  I provide each student with a problem or task based on their current level of understanding.  I use Webb’s Depth of Knowledge chart (http://sites.sau4.org/high-school-redesign/home/standards-based-education/competencies/webb-s-depth-of-knowledge) as a guide when creating or finding appropriate problems.  The learning goal assessments I give contain both Level 1 and Level 2 type questions.  The level 2 tasks I give are based on what you see in the chart as Level 3.  The level 3 tasks are based on what you see in the chart as Level 4.      

      If a student has the correct answer but does not show any work, they receive an automatic 5 out of 10 points.  This is still failing, but it is not going to ultimately affect their grade as much as if I was going to give them a 0.  The student can then go back and resubmit the problem with the work attached; I will then adjust their grade accordingly.  

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  • Nicholas Rhodes

    Member
    June 26, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Hi Kate! Thanks for responding. I provide each student with a problem or task based on their current level of understanding. I use Webb’s Depth of Knowledge chart (http://sites.sau4.org/high-school-redesign/home/standards-based-education/competencies/webb-s-depth-of-knowledge) as a guide when creating or finding appropriate problems. The learning goal assessments I give contain both Level 1 and Level 2 type questions. The level 2 tasks I give are based on what you see in the chart as Level 3. The level 3 tasks are based on what you see in the chart as Level 4.

    If a student has the correct answer but does not show any work, they receive an automatic 5 out of 10 points. This is still failing, but it is not going to ultimately affect their grade as much as if I was going to give them a 0. The student can then go back and resubmit the problem with the work attached; I will then adjust their grade accordingly.

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  • Shawn Hershey

    Member
    July 12, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Hello Nicholas.  The first part I have to wrap my head around is that you are a cyber school teachers.  Not sure if you have discussions with your students on a topic in some form for them to hear everyone’s thinking.  Next, do you give an assessment like this everyday?  The reason why I ask is that I have found that it sometimes takes up to three days of students struggling with a concept before they start to understand it.  You might be jumping to interventions too quickly if you are assessing after a day, but I might be wrong in that.  It is an interesting system you have.  This would be hard for me as we have about 140 students each day at my middle school.  I have never had an opportunity to implement this.  How many students are on your roster?

    • Nicholas Rhodes

      Member
      July 12, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      <div>Hi Shawn,</div>

      <br>

      Thanks so much for responding to my post!  Would you up for a conversation regarding my issue and we can also discuss an issue that you are having?  I would love to collaborate with someone.  Maybe we can talk on Skype?  Let me know if you would be interested.  Have a great day!

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  • Kate Nielsen

    Member
    July 12, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you Nicholas for responding to my questions. Like Shawn Hershey, do you do this every day?

  • Sarah Albert

    Member
    July 13, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    I like the breakdown you have for the 10 point system. When you talk about students “fixing” the assessment do you eliminate the previous grade and assign the new grade? 

    So for example if they get a 5 the first time then after fixing and completing level 2 work they are now at a 9, do they get the 9 recorded or do you average the two? So basically can the students just redo everything for the better grade? I know we teach to mastery but at some point I see students who just always do “so-so” the first time and then redo for mastery, instead of working hard and showing mastery the first time. In my school we are required to allow “retakes” of all assessments where students score below a 75% then after retesting the highest grade they can get is 85% or less. Some students don’t even try the first time just so they can get a good look at the assessment. Then there are others who after the mandatory retest actually do worse. it can become very time consuming and frustrating.

    • Nicholas Rhodes

      Member
      July 14, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      <div>Hi Sarah!  So, once we discuss all of the misconceptions and errors that students made, I then allow the students to revise their work on the learning goal assessments to improve their grade.  I was thinking not to average the two grades, but just replace it as students demonstrate growth.  Students can redo everything for the better grade.  Students are going to work towards mastering content at different times throughout the year.  They should have until the end of the course date to do so.  Would you make any recommendations on improving my system or the scale I am using for grading?  </div>

      <br>

      I wanted to respond to what you were talking about regarding “retakes”.  

      So if a student scores a 75% or above, is to your discretion to allow them a “retake”?  In my opinion, I would allow a retake for those students as well.  If someone gets an 80%, there is still some things they need to work on.  They should be give the opportunity to address their mistakes as well.  I see your concern regarding your schools’ policy on “retakes”.  Have you addressed this with admin?  Why did they put this policy in place?  Do the retakes apply to all assessments or just certain types?  You could actually make the policy work in your favor if you use a standards based grading model like I have.  Maybe we can set up a Skype call to discuss.   I am finding it extremely difficult to help others through the posts.  I am finding that having Skype calls has more benefit.  Let me know if you would be interesting in discussing more.  Thanks!

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  • Kathy Felt

    Member
    July 15, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Hi Nicholas,

    First, I like your 10-point breakdown of points. I totally believe in feedback whenever and wherever it is appropriate for learning. Then, when students take action to improve their learning, I totally support changing the score to the higher score (not averaging the scores) as they have documented learning. I have interesting discussions with other teachers around this very topic, especially when they feel the grades should be averaged. My argument is that learning doesn’t necessarily always follow OUR schedule. The thing to remember about math learning is that it usually builds on previous learning. If there is no incentive to the student to keep learning after an assessment, then the student often gives up and doesn’t fully learn a concept. This concept might be critical for a later topic, and this weakness will likely impact the new learning. So, anything we can do to fully develop and support learning, will help the student fully understand the concepts. Next, we need to come to an understanding of what the grade represents. In my mind, it represents how well the student has mastered the standards. If an average is used, that grade doesn’t really reflect a student’s current level of mastery. Some teachers lament that it is not “fair” to the other students who mastered it from the start. What? Since when does 1 student’s grade affect another’s grade? Each grade should be reflective of individual student’s mastery. Oh boy…we could go on and on and on with this topic!  

  • Jon

    Administrator
    September 19, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    @nicholasrhodes @katenielsen @shawnhershey @sarahalbert 

    Hey Everyone, have you seen the Math Mentoring Moment with Steven? We chat about all things mastery learning and assessment. Check it out https://learn.makemathmoments.com/modules/standards-based-grading-a-case-study-with-steven-sevel/

    Standards Based Grading – A Case Study with Steven Sevel