Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rethinking 3rd Party Learning Assessments

By now you have all administered at least one assessment of your students' learning.  If you are are a humanities teacher you may have used an Expeditionary Learning mid, or end-of, unit assessment. (Math teachers, don't check out yet, for the reveal could be useful to you, even if the particulars are irrelevant.)

The 8th grade team was meeting to norm around a mid-unit assessment aimed at determining student's ability to evaluate author's purpose AND to define unfamiliar words by using context clues. Following our norming session, we intended to score the assessment and enter the data into Mastery Connect.  The rest of this post assumes that you can upload/create an assessment in Mastery Connect. If you cannot I'll refer you to this video:

Click here for video

 The assessment had about 16 questions*, and as is good practice, each question was originally linked to a CCSS.  In this case, RI.8.4, RI.8.6, SL.8.2, and SL.8.3. Because the assessment contained a few questions that were binary in nature, the assessment structure listed them as true/false.  The behind-the-scenes aspect of this assessment (and many to come in the future) seemed intimidating.

While norming we recognized that entering the data for each question would not only require more time, but would actually create a misleading report, for not all of the questions were well-suited to showing a student's mastery.

Instead, we identified multiple best questions for each standard (yet fewer than were originally listed), and bundled them together as sequential criteria in the behind-the-scenes Mastery Connect assessment "adder".

This allowed us to target our scoring efforts, and shaved time off of our data entry.  Both things were done without sacrificing the nature of the assessment, and in the end we were able to transfer a student's level of mastery (as dictated by the cut-scores listed for mastery and near mastery) to a rubric (with actionable feedback) that students are familiar with.

Try to manipulate your next assessment to save time and target your feedback.  You will be happy you did.

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