The summer course resulted in lots of plans and new knowledge about assessment practices. Throughout the fall, teachers used this new knowledge and plans to construct and administer new assessments, score them, and use the results of their assessments to improve learning.

A few samples of teachers' assessments, with their commentary, are listed below.

Ron Worth, High School Physics Assessment

  • Describe one of your classes where you used some new assessment ideas: Introduction to Physics, 9th grade students, class size is 32, trimesters (12 weeks), 72 minute class period.
  • Talk about what your assessments were like: The assessments were formative in nature. Short quizzes about key points covered in the Area of work determination. Very directive towards the science standards and focused on covered curriculum
  • Tell us how students responded to the assessments: Generally, the students responded positively to the style and format. As expected, the unmotivated continued to be disenchanted and really did not care either way what type of assessment was used...it was still a quiz and it didn't matter the style. The upper and middle students appeared to appreciate the direct approach and knowing what to expect from the small assessments.
  • Tell us what you learned about their learning, and how you might adjust your instruction based on their responses to the assessment: For many students, the direct approach of telling them what they are going to do, exactly doing it and then assessing exactly what you told them you would do was positive. Not certain if the unmotivated had changed their opinion but may have had an appreciation not directly showed. The success rate was greater for the middle students (on average) but similar for the top students. (they tend to do well no matter what we do as teachers...they will be successful)

Emily Mettner, Middle School Mathematics Equations Test

One of my classes that I'm using the new assignments with is a 7th grade class that has a mixture of students ranging from high level students to students that need extra assistance. My tests are a mixture of vocabulary to solving multiple choice and multiple step problems. I also have a range of different types of story problems that I use. They range from all the different aspects of Blooms when they fit the assessment. My first test, I gave on the computer, and then on paper. I now do a combination of both for all the levels of students that I teach.

Since my first test I gave on the computer, the students didn't do as well on it as I would have expected. They were used to taking tests on paper, and rarely fully on the computer. Even when students are given scratch paper, and other tools to use to take the test, sometimes the computer hinders them. So I gave the option to retest again, but this time on paper. I found that more students did better on the paper test, than on just the computer alone. And some students, it didn't affect them either way they took the test. They either knew the material or they didn't. Since giving the test on paper, I found that some students needed to write and solve the problem on the test, right next to the question they were working on. Even with scratch paper where they could transfer the work from the screen to the paper, I found that some students found it easier to work out the problem when it was right next to their work.

So what I started doing was give both the paper test, and a computer version of the test, because I have a range of abilities levels in my classroom. That way students can work and solve the problems on the test then transfer their answers to the computer. This helps those students that need special accommodations for the tests to be written on their tests, and then they can just transfer their answers. I think having both the paper version and the computer version helps students to adjust to the all computer test. Since we are ultimately getting students ready for multiple step story problem tests on the computer, without a paper version. So that when the MEAPs are taken and it is all done on the computer it won't be so foreign to them.

The test I have created for this class during the summer, I have not gotten to it yet because I found there were other concepts that I needed to cover first with them. I hope to get to the assessment soon. I’m attaching one of the tests I have given, but in scanned form because I am using two different programs to create the test. The one program I use to create part of the test, will not open a test on the computer unless you have that program installed on your computer. The other half of the test is from Data Director with the bank of different types of story problems for each concept.

One of my goals this year for my students is to have them understand story problems better. I want them to be able to attach a story problem, and really break it down into what it means. Most students do not understand them and they become frustrated with story problems, and then math in general. I hope that through seeing multiple story problems, and learning to decode them that they will become better math students and hopefully enjoy math more.

Julie Bazinau, Algebra Assessment

  • Describe one of your classes where you used some new assessment ideas.
As my Algebra students were finishing up a quiz on calculating slope of a line, I ask them to brainstorm quietly where in real life would you calculate slope. When everyone was done with quiz, I had the students share what they came up with and put it on the board. The class came up with more than 20 examples. Next, I put them in pairs and had them pick two of the items on the board and write story problems where slope had to be calculated. That night I went through all the examples and selected 4 and created a worksheet from them. The students thought that was cool that I used their examples.
  • Talk about what your assessments were like.
The assessment was made from student created questions that I modified a bit to make sure that the questions were hitting standards and challenging enough.
  • Tell us how students responded to the assessments.
The students loved that I used their questions. By doing this, they answered for themselves the question, "Where am I going to use this in the real world."
  • Tell us what you learned about their learning, and how you might adjust your instruction based on their responses to the assessment.
Learning is more engaging for students when they see the reason and/or the application. I have lined up a bunch of activities whose data can be model with the family of functions we learn in Algebra I. I think the students will be more engaged when they generate the data to be analyzed versus using data from a textbook.
  • Describe anything else about the experience that you think others would like to know.
It was awesome to here the free flowing discussions occurring in class when the students were trying to generate good questions.
My favorite question on the assessment was the last question about which line was steeper. The slopes were -3 and 2. Most students selected 2 because it was greater. I told them that was wrong because I asked for the steepest slope. It started a great discussion about absolute values of slopes.
  • Attach a copy of the assessment and possible some scanned student work on the assessment.
See attachment

Rachel Somers, High School Biology assessment

I am responding to this in regards to my biology class this year. I have been working at trying to make sure all my assessments are linked to the appropriate standards and that the tasks, products, or skills are appropriate also. The test that I am linking is for a standard on the students knowing the basic structure of a plant, animal, and bacteria cell. They are supposed to know what parts help us identify each kind of cell, and be able to identify the parts and their functions for the cell. The students did relatively well on this assessment. I did this one before we started talking about transport of materials in cells, and photosynthesis. Usually I would have tested for everything at the same time, but I am finding that smaller more frequent tests are working better for the students. This also allows me to stop and check for progress more frequently. My school allows students to reassess, and smaller more frequent is also easier to pinpoint the needs for reassessment. I am attaching a copy of the assessment to this email. Let me know if you need anything else.

Sherryl Martin, Earth’s Changing Surface, Plate Tectonics

  • Describe one of your classes where you used some new assessment ideas: I used the same assessments for all four of my seventh grade science classes, ranging from 22 to 30 students. I created them on Data Director and actually had students take the tests in our computer lab.
  • Talk about what your assessments were like: The first assessment that I created wandered from topic and actually missed a target. So it was important to actually try one for my learning as well as to get students acclimated to this type of testing. Therefore, my pre and post testing were not really aligned, but they were very useful. This also prompted me to create smaller formative assessments to use as I taught.
  • Tell us how students responded to the assessments: At first they were excited about the change in testing. They thought it would be more fun to test on computers. However, once started, they realized that it was still a test. Some seemed to like the test questions being straight to the target areas. They noticed that the questions were deeper but only applied to the actual subject taught. Many students said they found they needed to think more. This made me very excited as I am always looking for ways to get students to think deeper.
  • Tell us what you learned about their learning and how you might adjust your instruction based on their responses: I found myself really analyzing my resources for teaching. I often found that many things included offshoots from the subject that seemed to bog me and my students down. By eliminating the extra things, I was able to include more inquiry learning and help students develop deeper understanding of subject matter. The only drawback to that is that I will be changing curriculum in the next year or so and have to start over. However, at least now I know how important that is and learned new way to develop resources and assessments with more meaning for student learning. This has saved me time and also, I believe improved my teaching.
  • Improved: I am spending more time making sure that questions on assessments are aligned to target areas. I have even created some questions of my own for areas that were missing in Data Director. Learning to use Data Director for assessments was very important to me, so much so that Marlynn and I have given two separate in-service trainings on assessments in Data Director.

Jeanine Sherman, Geometry assessment

  • Describe one of your classes where you used some new assessment ideas: I used the new assessment ideas in my algebra and geometry classes. I am trying to get them both aligned to the Common Core so I was going to need to rewrite the tests anyway.
  • Talk about what your assessments were like: My assessments were created in data diretor and I had two - three questions per each I can statement for the standards. The assessments so far have ranged from 18 questions to 36. i use my assessments for pre and post data. We have had a school initiative to use pre and post test data for three years now.
  • Tell us how students responded to the assessments: The students are used to taking pre and post tests on data director. This is the first year they are truly meaningful for my math classes. Due to the school initiative to use the quarterly data director tests, some teachers don't actually teach the stuff they are testing their students on. The tests are there for a data measure.
  • Tell us what you learned about their learning, and how you might adjust your instruction based on their responses to the assessment: I learned quite a bit about their learning, and about my teaching. When you have meaningful test, it makes creating the lessons and teaching it much more focused and meaningful. I feel more in sync with my teaching because I am teaching to the test. I did a poor job with my first unit in Algebra. I created it before school got started and I was using a website from Kentucky with I can statements on it. I will be putting the I can statements into my own words and rearranging a few things for next year. Geometry has gone wonderfully this year. Looking at the pre and post test data, it is amazing to see student growth and also perhaps the parts I struggled teaching them on.
  • Describe anything else about the experience that you think others would like to know: Learning how to create tests to fit your curriculum is one of the best tools you could have. You will know when you are successful when you know how to assess what you are teaching.

Thank you for helping me see a clearer way to lesson planning.