Assessment Can Happen Virtually Anywhere

Assessment Icon

Nicole Goerges, Victoria, MN
Jeremiah Morgan, Eagan, MN

As teachers, we are in a constant state of professional growth. Whether experiencing the current shift in learning in a socially distant or virtual environment, or the realization that our system has been inequitable for too many students for far too long, we know that change is necessary. In our own classrooms, we found room for improvement in our assessment practices. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) defines excellent assessment as “… an integral part of instruction, provides evidence of proficiency, includes a variety of strategies and data sources, and informs feedback to students and instructional decisions.” Two of NCTM’s productive beliefs stood out to us: (1) Math understanding and processes can be measured through the use of a variety of assessment strategies and tasks, and (2) Assessment is a process that should help students become better judges of their own work.

Excellent assessments

  • Inform future instruction;
  • Provide evidence of proficiency;
  • Are approachable through multiple strategies;
  • Are self-assessable for strengths and weaknesses; and
  • Reflect the manner in which learning occurred.

We came to the conclusion that providing student-created portfolios helped us check the final box that our traditional assessments lacked. We interviewed teachers with years of experience using portfolios in their classrooms. We were amazed by the ownership students displayed as they identified strengths and weaknesses using their classwork and homework problems as evidence of growth. Beyond assessing students, portfolios created a more equitable class culture where everyone had strengths and weaknesses. Students were more motivated to persevere through their weaknesses because of their experience with their portfolio. Imagine all the thinking that occurs when you assess for learning versus when you assess for a grade.

How do you get started? Members of the Professional Learning Team created a portfolio template for every CPM course found in the Assessment section of the Teacher tab. The Google Slides template provides a space for evidence and reflection for each chapter, where students can include images and text.  (Find these in your eBook: go to Teacher > Assessment > Portfolios/Hwk where they are linked.) Once your students have access to the portfolio slides, you will need to facilitate a way for students to identify strengths and weaknesses. One idea is to have students choose one of the Learning Logs listed in the Chapter Closure. Then students find three problems that they have completed on this topic to include as evidence that their understanding has increased over time. The next step is peer and teacher feedback. Students can share their portfolio slides with their team, and their teammates can add feedback, using a strategy such as Two Stars and a Wish. Another possibility is for students to present their rough draft portfolios to their team for verbal feedback. Then students make final edits based on both the student and teacher feedback provided throughout the process.

Consider this final thought: Less is more. Students become self-assessors of their own work by revisiting the problems they already engaged in throughout the course. Portfolios create the platform to facilitate student reflection, teacher-student relationships, and ownership. Since problems are selected from the beginning, middle, and end of learning, students see the connections throughout the sections and chapters.

CPM believes that students should be assessed in the same manner in which they learned during class. Portfolios foster an environment where students generate strategies throughout the unit by problem solving in teams. These strategies are highlighted within their portfolios. While we believe that portfolios are invaluable for learning and teaching, we recognize that it is neither appropriate nor feasible to assess solely through one type of assessment. Since successful implementation of portfolios in the classroom requires explicit modeling, it is best to begin using portfolios after the first or second chapter of the course. We acknowledge that various forms of assessment are still useful to effectively promote learning. But, however you assess, make sure the focus is on what the students know instead of what they don’t know. Take a look at the Assessment section of the Teacher tab of your eBook to get started with portfolios. Many of your students will appreciate an alternative way to demonstrate their growth!

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Algebra Tiles Blue Icon

Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

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Building on Instructional Practice Series

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.