Tag Archives: meta analysis

Creating Assessments: Three Types of Standards

I’ve read this post by Mathy McMatherson twice and am still trying to digest all that’s going on here.  Daniel says it best himself: “If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s aggregating posts from the Blogotwittersphere with a similar theme, even if they’re from ages ago”

So, you definitely need to go read it in its entirety, and follow the links, and then go back and read it again.  But here are a few highlights:

“It should be clear both to me and to my students what the expectations of ‘mastery’ are for that standard. Assessments should make it clear both to me and to my students where their gaps in knowledge are, as well as their strengths in understanding. Assessments should promote student-directed remediation. Assessments should provide accurate data for a teacher about the level of understanding of his or her students. That’s a lot of pressure for an assessment.

This means it’s a big deal when we choose to assess something, and its a big deal when we choose not to assess something.”

Then there is a discussion of each of the different types of standards he’s using: Procedural Standards, Conceptual Standards, and Synthesis Standards.  Hidden inside the description of Conceptual Standards is a breakdown of his tiered assessments.  Finally, Daniel speaks to the constant struggle between skills and habits of mind – details vs. big picture.  Like I said, there is a lot going on in this post.  And it’s amazing to me that this is coming from a second year teacher.  There is a depth of analysis that speaks to what this community can offer; the post has links to resources galore that Daniel has processed to create a structure that has a solid foundation in both research and classroom experience.  I’m in awe.  Go, read: Creating Assessments: Three Types of Standards

Oh yeah, since this is the Productive Struggle Blog, there are some questions I pulled from the final paragraphs:

1.  I’m still curious how other people write assessments.

2.  How do we create opportunities for our students to exceed our expectations?

3.  We’re all searching for these Level 5 Questions to give our students.

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Data Analysis

I teach high school and was sent to a meeting at the middle school this afternoon. I sat at a table with another teacher in my department, an English teacher from the high school and our principal.

Our district has adopted Achievement Net for K-8; they administer quarterly exams that align with the common core and deliver results within 48 hours. Today was results delivery day. The meeting started with specific accomplishments each grade level made and the data to back up their claim. Then each team chose one question to work on for twenty minutes. That wasn’t a typo, they did item analysis on a single question. There was no “which kids do we need to target?” or “which teacher did the best?” They spent time discussing exactly what the big idea, details, misconceptions and building blocks were for that one item. Next meeting will include action plans that may address the questions I just mentioned, but for today they really delved deep into deconstructing what students did. The facilitator acknowledged this, saying “this is hard work you’re doing, I know I’m pushing you.”

I was frustrated at my midterm analysis meeting earlier in the day. After observing at this meeting I realized why: since I didn’t write the test, and I didn’t grade the test (scantron did), I don’t feel like I have a good sense of how anyone did on the exam. We need time to really examine what the student thinking was rather than making lists upon lists of standards and names.

While the middle school teachers did item analysis we had a chance to chat about the template they were using, how the common core is organized and the benefits of using test banks. The conversation turned to how we wrote our midterms backwards: first we chose a bunch of questions, then we assigned standards. We should have decided what standards we wanted to assess and then chosen a few questions per standard. That’s how I write my quizzes and tests, but for big exams its been past practice to take last year’s test and edit from there. A test bank certainly isn’t a necessity for this process, but it wouldn’t hurt (so long as the questions are well written) and it would cut down on the time required to put the test into scantron (apparently that process is painful).

We also discussed how often what students get stuck on is notation or vocabulary rather than the big idea. We started brainstorming ideas that could come up in earlier classes, and that is the first “assignment” (call for help) from this blog. Before you click through to the google doc, take a moment to think about what you wish students were familiar with before they entered your class. I’m not talking about procedures or big ideas (although I will include a list of mnemonics we wish were struck from students lexicon), but anything that falls under the standard for math practice “attend to precision.”

Take five minutes to think.

Now compare and share!