Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: Why I'm Switching to Leveled Math Assessments
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Why I'm Switching to Leveled Math Assessments

Welcome to my 3 part series on Leveled Math Assessments. My Common Core Aligned leveled math assessments were created to provide teachers with a tool for assessing the depth of students’ proficiency within the standards and to help teachers more accurately and more easily communicate where a child is in relation to the expectations of their grade level’s standards. My first post focused on what a leveled math assessment is and today I'm focusing on why I'm committed to leveled math assessments in my classroom.

Wondering why you should differentiate your math assessments? Your math assessments are another place where you can strategically create growth-mindsets in your students. Read 7 of the reasons why I believe in leveled math assessments.

During my teaching career, I've taught 7 years of 5th grade, looped from 4th grade to 5th grade twice, and am currently in my second year of teaching 4th grade at a new school. This year, I partnered up with the 5th grade teacher and am allowed the pleasure of teaching 5th grade math (to the 4th graders I had last year). Switching grade levels was an invaluable form of professional development in regards to my math instruction. I was able to experience first-hand what my 5th graders were expected to learn in the previous grade and how everything connected as building blocks to the next grade level. As a 4th grade teacher with lots of 5th grade experience, I am able to prepare my students for what they will need to be able to do in math in the future.

I came up with 7 Reasons why I fully committed to using leveled math assessments this year:

1) Pre-assessments only based on what I had to teach for my grade level felt like a waste of time.  Typical pre-assessments that I've used in the past just weren't cutting it. How could I expect students to pre-assess on something that was pretty new to them? {This happens a lot in the shift from 3rd grade to 4th grade standards.} Although I understood the need for pre-assessments from an understanding my students and a gathering data standpoint, I wasn't convinced that spending a math class pre-assessing my students for every new unit was a good use of our time.

2) Leveled Math Assessments Respect students' abilities and learning needs.
I am so glad that the idea for leveled math assessments came to me because now I believe that leveled pre-assessments are so valuable. I show respect for my students' understanding and learning by providing the "building blocks" assessment as an entry point for students who may have barely mastered the 3rd grade standards and I provide levels of challenge for my higher students. Allowing students to see what they will be learning in an upcoming unit and what exactly they are expected to master really allows me to communicate math goals to my students in a concrete and age-appropriate way.

3) Teachers need to have a good sense of the expectations of students' previous grade level AND need to look forward into what students will be expected to learn in future grade levels. My leveled math assessments can serve as a concrete guide for understanding what students should already be able to do, the expectations for their mastery at the current grade-level, and what a more rigorous interpretation of the standard might look like. When Common Core Standards entered North Carolina, it became so important for me to spend more time looking back at what students should have learned in the previous grade and looking forward to see what would be expected of them next year. This helped me create a laser-like focus on my own grade-level's standards while developing a more cohesive understanding of the standards overall. During our transition year, it allowed me to step down to the previous grade's standards to see what students missed from the Common Core and how I could fill in the gaps to help them achieve understanding of my grade-level's standards.

4) Leveled Math Assessments make differentiation easier. Leveled Math Assessments provide me with evidence and data that allows me to plan strategically for whole group instruction, small group instruction, and stations or independent work time that better meets my students’ needs because my plans are based directly on where individual students are on the continuum of understanding a concept. With three similar assessment versions and a summative assessment option, I'm also able to document students’ growth over time.

5) Leveled Math Assessments provide stake-holders with a greater understanding of where students are in relation to grade-level expectations. In my leveled math assessment resources, I've provided teachers with the standards trace across the grade levels and a description of how the leveled assessments build on one another. The assessments themselves can quickly provide parents, teachers, administrators, and support personnel/interventionists with a greater understanding of what is expected of students at your grade level, how to back up to pre-requisite knowledge for students who need more support, and can show you how to increase the rigor for students who are already meeting grade-level standards.

6) Leveled Math Assessments make standards-based grading much easier! I no longer have to "feel" my way through whether or not a student has a level 2, 3, or 4 understanding of the standards. The "building blocks," "goals," and "gold" sections of the math assessment clearly shows the level of accomplishment a student is independently capable of achieving.

7) Leveled Math Assessments allow me to infuse my math class with a growth mindset approach to learning. In the pre-assessment and practice phase, students can see what they are capable of and clear direction for what they need to learn in order to master grade-level "goals." Students already meeting grade-level goals can see opportunities for challenging their learning with the "gold" assessment questions. I am able to encourage students who are not yet meeting grade level expectations while challenging students whose skill level is beyond grade level—all within one assessment!

In Part 3, I share a variety of ways you can use leveled math assessments.

Ready to jump right in with leveled math assessments?

4th Grade Math Assessments/Practice Sheets
Place Value Addition Subtraction Worksheets or Tests
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Multiplying Whole Numbers
Dividing with Whole Numbers
Operations with Fractions and Decimal Fractions
4th Grade Measurement Worksheets, Measurement Word Problems, and Tests

5th Grade Math Assessments/Practice Sheets
∎ Decimal Place Value Worksheets or Tests

The FULL 4th Grade Assessment Bundle is also available at 20% off the estimated total cost of all of my leveled math assessments.
4th Grade Differentiated Math Assessments

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