Mathematics Assessment 101

Photo Credit: Mykl Roventine via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Mykl Roventine via Compfight cc

I spent several days in Warsaw at a math assessment conference with Steve Leinwand and Erma Anderson.

Here are some take-aways:

1. Stop the grading madness. Assessment should inform teaching.

All too typical practice:

We teach,
We assess,
We grade.

That is, testing as summative monitoring of student mastery of content.

-Steve Leinwand

2. Construct. Critique. Reason.

Focus here in the Common Core Math Standards:

 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

3. Collaboration must happen.

Steve Leinwand speaks about collaboration.

4. Feedback is critical all around.

One underutilized resource for collaboration and feedback are the classrooms and teachers that exist in each school.

“… Record your work, your lessons. Invite people in to watch it, share it … ”  – Steve

5. Provide opportunities to close the knowledge gap.

Have a double-block of math for those who would benefit.

Don’t drag behind in remedial classes; use the time to pre-teach the next lesson and give kids a head start.

6. Make it matter.

Help students care enough about the task to engage their minds in it.

Provide tasks that are contextual and relevant to students’ lives.

7. Keep it accessible.
  • We lose students if we don’t scaffold the learning and make it accessible to all.
  • Don’t think this means easy, because it doesn’t.
8. Affect matters.

When a student asks a question two others have already asked, don’t call attention to the fact that you’ve already answered it three times. 

No sarcasm. No shame. Students process and learn at different paces. Allow them thinking time.

[I don’t think we talk about this one enough.]

9. Ask for evidence.
  • Is this viable or not?
  • How do you know?
  • How did you find that?
  • Why did you try it that way?
10. Back away from pre-assessments that are skills based.
  • Don’t give the same test before and after.
  • Use an open-ended task or problem to determine readiness to learn.
  • Good pre-assessments will reveal unique and deep understandings of how to problem-solve.
Other Snippets
  • Ask yourself when designing tasks, ‘is it a word problem or a problem to be solved?’
  • When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative assessment. When the customer tastes it, that’s summative.
  • You can’t make a plant grow by measuring it. You have to feed and nurture it.

2 Replies to “Mathematics Assessment 101”

  1. Well written review of the importance of the total process for us in mathematics. From pre-assessment to reflection the importance of natural feedback in an open trusting environment are critical. I love the hypothesis/claim to reasoning/evidence as well. We use this for everything else, why not math! As we do this at grade four, my biggest goal, thanks to you, is to move them from skills to more relevant open response problem finding/solving ones.

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