Math assessments

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Math assessment quick guide

  1. Math standards work together. Look for standards within a cluster or domain that complement each other. Assess the concept not just individual standards.
    For example, in elementary grades place value can be evaluated using items for identifying place value, rounding numbers, and addition with regrouping. The students then can show their understanding of place value in different but connected ways.
  2. Include items that address a concept with questions that approach the standard(s) in different manners. Mixing selected response with constructed response items provides a better picture of student thinking and learning.
  3. Select test questions that have grade level math vocabulary. It will be important to decide what modifications or support will be available for students that may not understand the question due to reading skills, not math proficiency.
  4. Use grade appropriate numbers. Also, vary digits, length, and the types of numbers used in the questions.
    For example, if testing fractions, select items with a variety of denominators.
  5. Evaluate each concept or standard with a variety of complex or difficult questions. Assessments that are too hard or too easy will not provide instructional or feedback value.
  6. Be careful not to over-test a concept or standard. Typically 5 – 10 items with varied complexity or difficulty will provide instructional performance data.

Reading and Language Arts assessments

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Classroom reading assessments

Passage considerations

  • Rigor and complexity appropriate for current students
  • Context of instruction and content knowledge
  • Students have background knowledge to understand reading

Passages not in context to instruction and requiring extensive background knowledge will hinder student performance. The resulting data will not provide appropriate insight into learning. It will be especially true with English learners and students struggling with current content.

The length of passages will determine the time to complete the assessment.

If the reading load is too high, students will rush to finish the assessment. Performance suffers, along with inferences or decisions from the assessment data.

Text complexity should be balanced across the assessment.

The balance of grade level appropriate text complexity provides the best environment for gauging student achievement. If a classroom test pushes the boundary of complexity, look for indicators within the passage that help plan future instruction.

The question, ‘Was the reading too hard, or the content too difficult?’, is common in analyzing passage performance in a content area.

Appropriate number of items per passage.

The length of the passage justifies the number of items used to assess the reading. Make reading on an assessment worth the student’s time.

Too many items with a passage.

A lengthy passage supports more questions, but using too many items will over-burden the text. It also causes an overlap or queuing. Queuing occurs when one question helps a student answer another question.

Passages typically support items from different standards, but you have to be careful not to ask too much of the passage.

Appropriate vocabulary in passages and items.

The passage mix should challenge students, but not all reading has to be complex. Including only the most challenging and complex passages, will negatively impact performance for many students, especially those struggling with grade level reading.