Thursday, March 01, 2012

Assessment Questions

Something else I am going to be revisiting is how I'm doing assessments. For the first 19 years of my teaching career, I did unit tests, sometimes with quizzes in between. This year, I teach 2-3 Learning Targets and then quiz - the most recent Learning Targets for feedback, the preceding 2-3 Learning Targets for a grade. Right before Christmas Break, I revised the feedback problems to "feedback or 5" - if students could show me they knew it, they could earn their 5 and were exempt from the problems on the next quiz, otherwise, they got feedback.

I have to be honest, I'm not happy with this system. I feel like I've lost instruction time. I spend more time than I'd like between reviewing and assessing. About a third of my students don't try anything on the feedback problems. However, when I surveyed my students, they liked having less concepts on a test. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next year, but I'm pretty certain that it's not going to be the way I did this year.

Lately, I've also been thinking about how assessment needs to be in class. I have always been a "given them a test to see what they know" person. With the revisions in testing coming from the Common Core, I have started to wonder about giving my students a task instead of a test for assessment. For example, when we did transformations in December, I had my Advanced Algebra 2 students do a matching activity in pairs. Could I count that as their assessment? Granted, I would need to modify it a little so they would explain why they matched the way they did, but could that count? If I'm going to use that as their assessment, do I allow them to use their notes? Can they talk to other groups? Should they even be allowed to do it in pairs? Normally when I give a test, students are not allowed to use their notes, books, or talk to other students. Does that change now?

I'm curious what you all think - please, if you will, address my questions in the comments. Thanks.


misscalcul8 said...

If you are assessing so frequently, it seems like you wouldn't have to review. After all, they've just learned it. If students like having less concepts on a test, keep that system but get rid of the review days. Maybe spend more time focusing on activities that help students understand the concept in a deeper way or with activities where students have to teach other, write, explain, something that helps it stick in their brain.

If you like the idea of team tests, why not combine those two ideas? They still need to be assessed independently so that every student is held accountable for their learning and so that their grade is an accurate reflection of what they know and can do. Maybe turn your feedback problem into a group/partner assessment?

Michael said...

Of course not. It could be a project, a student presentation, etc...However, the issue I have with all of this change at the high school level is that it's all for nothing unless colleges change the way they assess. If colleges continue to assess strictly on tests, quizzes and projects then are we doing our students an injustice by not "testing" them as often as possible?

Jamie said...

As I am getting ready for sbg my first time next trimester (aka Monday), I find myself tearing apart my learning targets. For some concepts, what I once wanted them to show me on an assessment I am ok with them showing me during class. Maybe it be practice problems or whatever where I am able to do some quick verbal feedback. My goal is to try to avoid such frequent assessments.

For stats unit I have a unit long project (do pieces as we learn what we need). I think I am going to apply this to the learning targets. I'm ok with it not being a testing situation.

By the way, really do appreciate you and others sharing your thoughts as you struggle through using SBG. It is allowing me to relax and realize it will not go perfectly my first time through.

pacbard said...

I was really interested in reading your post. I felt like I am not the only one thinking about assessment!

I am also thinking of including more projects or team tests, but the possibility of students "free riding" really bugs me. One way to solve the issue could be assessing the process alongside the outcome. CPM (College Preparatory Math) has some good ideas on how to track and assess group interaction.

Dvora Geller said...

I have been doing weekly quizzes instead of big tests and many students do better, but some are not consistent. I am still reminding them that I look at the newest assessments with more weight and it is not about learning and forgetting, but reviewing each week. I am also using them to offer extra help at lunch time since I know who with and where to focus rather than take the whole classes time.

Another new piece for me is the idea of Flipping the classroom. I am making screencast videos of my lessons (they wind up to be less than 5 minutes) and the students take notes and examples and even try a few at home. They can watch a part as often as needed and go back to it to review. I take questions at the start of the next class and then they get practice time with me there. It is still a pretty new idea, but is off to a nice start.