Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: Different Approaches to Pre-Assessment in Math
 photo 3am_Tpt1_zpsf4cbxixc.png      photo 3am_fb1_zpsfahlrpv9.png      photo 3am_twitter1_zpsa02mffh9.png      photo 3am_pin1_zpsvpruiaem.png      photo 3am_blovin1_zpswv0i5utz.png      photo 3am_email1_zpspf6kl2ys.png

Different Approaches to Pre-Assessment in Math

Today I'm sharing some pros and cons for the different ways we pre-assess or pretest students in math. If you are looking for ideas for pre-assessing your students or simply considering if there is a better way for you to implement pre-assessments in your classroom, my blog series on pre-assessment in math should help you make some decisions!

{I'm writing a little mini-series about my love of pre-assessment. If you missed my last post about why we should use pre-assessments in math, even in a test-weary education world, you can click here to go back and read it!}Is there a better way to pre-assess students in math class than what we have traditionally done? Check out 4 ways we pre-assess in math and what I believe is the best way to pre-assess my 4th grade and 5th grade students in math. After reading the pros and cons for these 4 kinds of preassessments, you'll be ready to implement your pre-assessments with more strategy and less data-overwhelm! You won't want to miss MY FAVORITE way of pre-assessing 4th grade and 5th grade students in math!!
Now, while I'm encouraging you to implement pre-assessments into your math plans, I have to admit that it took me a while to perfect my pre-assessment routine.

Believe me, I've done plenty of things not-quite-so-right when it comes to pre-assessing (and assessing) my students in math. In the past, assessment has sometimes occurred as an afterthought and I have fallen into the trap of giving students a test because I needed grades or evidence for report cards.

#I'mnotsayingIamperfect but I'm here to help!

I've administered pre-assessments in math a few different ways, and I've had some time to think about "best practices" for pre-assessing students. As you read my analysis of each of the four ways I've assessed students, you'll be able to see how my beliefs about the purpose of pre-assessments evolved.

Note: Read carefully because I am NOT endorsing all of these options as "the best" ways to assess.

Different Approaches to Pre-Assessment in Math


After reading the pros and cons for these 4 kinds of preassessments, you'll be ready to implement your pre-assessments with more strategy and less data-overwhelm! You won't want to miss MY FAVORITE way of pre-assessing 4th grade and 5th grade students in math!!
1. Pre-test and post-test students with the same summative test for the unit's content.

When grade level teams are moving towards "common formative assessments," this is often how it's done. The team or district creates a summative assessment for the unit and teachers give it at the beginning of the unit to get a measure of "pre-learning" data.

POSITIVES:
You only have to create or find one version of the assessment. You have lots of information on what students know and don't know as you prepare to teach a new unit.

DOWNSIDE:
1. > > > Because you have "lots of information on what students know and don't know as you prepare to teach the unit," you may be overwhelmed by the information you have collected. By pre-assessing students on-grade level topics that they have not yet been taught, you will most likely find that students have deficits on MOST of the content.

With a pre-assessment that is really meant to be used as a summative assessment at the end of a unit, it is hard to know where to begin (wasn't figuring out how to proceed part of the goal of the pre-assessment?) and it can be difficult to sort out students who will really struggle with the content versus students who just have not yet been exposed.

2. > > > A detailed pre-assessment that is as long as your post-assessment may take a huge chunk of class time. If you plan to pre-assess your students this way for each unit, the class time lost may negatively add up and in the end, you may be led to believe that pre-assessing is a waste of your time.

It's not, but I've been there, and I'm glad I now have a better way!

3. > > > I personally don't like using the same pre and post assessment because students have already been exposed to the questions. I often pull out my pre-assessments to have students go back and see that they now understand problems that they didn't understand at the beginning of the unit. For me to feel really good about my students' mastery of a topic, I like to see that they can solve similar (but different) problems on the post test.

MY OPINION: This is not my favorite way to assess students.

This type of pre-assessment is usually based on the current grade-level's standards. As a pre-assessment, it contains concepts and skills that students may have never been exposed to. While you may get a window into students' misconceptions, this pre-assessment approach can lead to a lot of teacher overwhelm and waste a good chunk of class time, especially if you cannot wrap your head around how to move forward with ALL of the data you have collected. A detailed assessment of ALL of the standards for one unit may also take a large chunk of class time (often 1-2 math blocks).

After reading the pros and cons for these 4 kinds of preassessments, you'll be ready to implement your pre-assessments with more strategy and less data-overwhelm! You won't want to miss MY FAVORITE way of pre-assessing 4th grade and 5th grade students in math!!
2. Use a pre-assessment that is similar to the post assessment but contains different questions.

POSITIVES:
Students will not have been exposed to the exact post-test questions before.

DOWNSIDE:
> > > The same as in #1. I find myself overwhelmed and confused about what direction to go in when I have 25 questions on different standards and skills of a math unit for 25 or more students. This "pre-assessment data overwhelm" often leads to just teaching my unit the way I planned to and differentiating based on classroom observations rather than the pre-assessment. (What was the point of the pre-assessment, again?)

MY OPINION: This assessment approach doesn't get me giddy either. If differentiation is one of the main purposes of my pre-assessment, I don't want to have so much data that I don't know where to start.


After reading the pros and cons for these 4 kinds of preassessments, you'll be ready to implement your pre-assessments with more strategy and less data-overwhelm! You won't want to miss MY FAVORITE way of pre-assessing 4th grade and 5th grade students in math!!
3. Use short quizzes focused on targeted skills and concepts for your grade level's standards.

POSITIVES:
With short pre-assessments or quizzes, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed by the data you have collected, and students will be able to show MORE of what they know. Most importantly, you will have specific data on what your students are able to do and not do with your grade-level's standards.

DOWNSIDE:
> > > You will most likely be "pre-assessing" more often. You will have to plan for pre-assessments more strategically and think of your unit in chunks of related concepts.

> > > Assessments based only on grade-level standards do not always give struggling students the opportunity to show growth OR gifted students the opportunity to be challenged. These grade-level-only based assessments may still just having you sorting students into the "doesn't know it yet" and "has mastered it all" groups.

MY OPINION: This assessment approach is a good start. Assessing with short quizzes based on grade-level expectations makes it easier to sort students into "gets it/doesn't get it" groups. It also allows you to address very specific math concepts, rather than feeling overwhelmed that some students have mastered "everything" and others have a #wholelot of deficits that you need to remediate.

After reading the pros and cons for these 4 kinds of preassessments, you'll be ready to implement your pre-assessments with more strategy and less data-overwhelm! You won't want to miss MY FAVORITE way of pre-assessing 4th grade and 5th grade students in math!!
4. Use leveled pre-assessments that are based on a continuum of understanding.

Leveled or "tiered" pre-assessments contain sections of questions based on below-grade level, on-grade level, and beyond-grade level standards. I call these "differentiated math assessments" and I've spent the past year developing leveled math assessments for 4th grade and 5th grade math.

POSITIVES:
Leveled pre-assessments allow you to assess students on a range of skills that you consider "pre-requisite" to grade-level concepts and a "stretch beyond" grade-level expectations.

Leveled pre-asssessments allow you to get a better understanding of the depths of students' knowledge--have they mastered pre-requisite skills, and are they therefore ready to tackle grade-level concepts? Are students struggling with the "building blocks" from previous grade-levels and will therefore need remediation before they are ready to meet your grade-level standards? Do students already know how to solve problems based on your grade-level standards and therefore will be ready to "stretch beyond" your grade-level standards-focused lessons?
 Place Value Rounding Leveled Math Assessments

With data from pre-assessments that contain a continuum of learning objectives, you will be ready to differentiate your lessons, stations, and student assignments right away!

the (not so) DOWNSIDES:
 Differentiated Leveled Pre Assessments for Fractions

> > > You may be (mini) assessing students more often, because you are looking at individual standards. However, you do not have to pre-assess students on every single standard in your unit in order for them to make progress. I suggest pre-assessing students on the skills and standards that are the MOST important and/or those where students are typically on a wide range of mastery (like adding and subtracting fractions, rounding, or subtraction with borrowing).

Take time to pre-assess for a skill a day or two before you plan to teach that lesson and you will find yourself planning differentiated stations or activities to easily meet the range of student needs. (Yay!)

You will be planning your teaching based on student ability and understanding because you have the information you need to know staring right back at you. (That's an UPSIDE!)

> > > Another downside is that in order to take a step back from your grade level's standards, you'll need to figure out the pre-requisite skills from the previous grade levels (or the lower-level building blocks) that make sense to link to your grade-level's math objectives. It can be time consuming to find the connections between grade-levels and if you are trying to incorporate leveled assessments throughout your math units. (No worries! I've done the work for you!)


> > > Another downside is that in order to challenge students who are advanced and have mastered most of your grade level's standards, you will need to come up with ideas for what it takes to "stretch" those students beyond your grade level's standards. What kinds of problems could they solve if they were working a step above those grade level standards? Sometimes you can easily find a direct correlation to your grade level standards in the next grade level's standards, but sometimes you have to get creative on how to up the ante on the learning objective for your gifted students. (Again, I've done that work for you too!)



> > > Because you have the information (darn it, ha ha!), you'll need to gather the resources and figure out how to extend the standards for students who already demonstrate mastery and remediate students who don't have pre-requisite knowledge. (Hopefully, your EC and Gifted teachers can jump in to help here, but I've also given ample resources within my leveled assessments that you can use to differentiate for a wide range of students.)

MY OPINION: This is my favorite way to assess students. I love giving students the opportunity to show mastery of pre-requisite skills before expecting them to try grade-level problems. I also like that students who are advanced and can already complete math problems on grade-level have the opportunity to be challenged by higher-level questions and see that they too have new things to learn in our upcoming unit.

I challenge you to use leveled pre-assessments in math as an opportunity to become an "assessment junkie" + "growth-mindset enthusiast" this school year.

Do you need leveled pre-assessments for your 4th or 5th graders that are based on a continuum of standards and skills?

I've created assessments containing three levels of mastery called building blocks, goals, and stretching beyond.

The assessment sets contain 3 versions for each standard so that you can pre-assess, assign practice or small group work, quiz, and post-assess with ease. You'll be able to easily see growth by comparing students' pre- and post- data as the assessments contain identical formats and number of problems.

Best of all, your STUDENTS will be able to examine their growth and realize that they are LEARNING and MASTERING math concepts. You'll be able to encourage growth mindsets within all of your math units!
 Differentiated Math Assessments

You can find the 4th Grade Assessments here in my tpt store or by clicking the photo above.

You can find the 5th Grade Assessments here in my tpt store.

Is there a better way to pre-assess students in math class than what we have traditionally done? Check out 4 ways we pre-assess in math and what I believe is the best way to pre-assess my 4th grade and 5th grade students in math. After reading the pros and cons for these 4 kinds of preassessments, you'll be ready to implement your pre-assessments with more strategy and less data-overwhelm! You won't want to miss MY FAVORITE way of pre-assessing 4th grade and 5th grade students in math!!

No comments:

Post a Comment

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...