Assessment Made Easy!

Assessment Icon

Karen Wootton, Director of Curriculum & Assessment,

Made you look, didn’t I?

Every teacher wants an easy way to assess their students, formatively and summatively. How wonderful it would be to have a quick way to grade all that homework, all those quizzes! Imagine giving all 150 of your students a chapter test on a Friday, and having them all graded and scored instantly before you headed home for the weekend! What a dream that would be, right?

Just like losing weight and getting in shape, there are no easy, “dream” answers to the task of assessing our students. While I have wished to be thin many times, I know that wishing does not get me there! To get in shape will take a lot of hard work and discipline. It is the same for assessing our students.

Some of the younger teachers out there may not realize that there is a machine that will quickly and accurately grade and score your quizzes and tests. It is called a Scantron machine, and if you search online, you can see one in action. As quickly as the teacher can load the answer sheets, the sheets are read, marked, and scored. If you find a video of one, turn up the volume. The obnoxious clicks the Scantron makes are part of the drawback of using a Scantron!

Another drawback, and the more critical one, is that a Scantron can only grade multiple choice/true – false type questions. If the student cannot convey his answer by bubbling in a shape, the Scantron is not the machine to use. If you are teaching a CPM course, you should see this as a HUGE drawback!

Google forms now has a “Quizzes” format which will allow students to enter responses, and receive a score instantly (if you choose) along with the correct answer (if you choose). Google Self-Grading Quizzes only allow multiple choice, checkboxes, or drop down menu items. Better than a Scantron, but not by much.

Teaching and learning are complex endeavors. To suggest that it can be simplified to filling in a bubble or selecting an item in a drop down menu is actually quite foolish. When we look at student work as a way to explore the student’s understanding, we need to look for every instance of sense-making. We need to consider the nuances and subtleties of what the student wrote, drew, or recorded. We must be mindful of what was and was not discussed during class, and what knowledge is still emerging and what is already mastered.

Assessment, both formative and summative, is hard, but it is part of our job. We went into the profession to educate students, and love it or hate it, assessment is part of that process. While we can debate whether giving grades is really needed to help students learn, the research is clear that formative assessment is a key piece to ensure student learning. Consequently, assessing is a big piece of a teacher’s job. Don’t give that piece away to a machine. The machine will not do it justice. Find some colleagues to work with and commit to being intentional with your assessments.

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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.