Alternate Forms of Assessment

  • Alternate Forms of Assessment

    Read more on how to implement these tips:

    Foster student discussion and collaboration. As Principles and Standards notes, communication deepens understanding. Students need opportunities to discuss their reasoning and negotiate meaning with their peers. Encourage students to engage in meaningful discussions about mathematical concepts by providing opportunities for peer-to-peer communication. Use open-ended questions and scaffolded sentence starters to prompt students to think critically and share their reasoning. For example, "How did you approach this problem? Why did you choose that strategy?" Provide sentence starters to support English Language Learners (ELL) and reduce anxiety for all students. These starters help level the playing field for those with less experience in formal communication. Allow students to discuss and justify their solutions, even if they're not completely correct. 

    Some useful sentence starters include: 

    • "I approached this problem by..." 
    • "I chose this strategy because..." 
    • "I think this solution works because..." 
    • "Can you explain why you decided to...?" 
    • "I agree with your solution because..." 
    • "I have a different perspective because..." 
    • "What if we try...?" 

    Observe student learning. Observing your students is key to creating an inclusive and effective math classroom. While it can be tough to watch students grapple with problems, fostering a space where they can struggle productively leads to deeper understanding. Here's how to make your observations more powerful: 

    • Ditch the traditional "teacher at the front" model. Circulate throughout the room during activities, observing individual and group interactions.
    • Consider using screen recording tools to capture student discussions and problem-solving approaches. Analyze these recordings later to identify areas of strength and areas where specific students might need differentiated instruction. 
    • Ensure all students feel comfortable participating in discussions and activities. Use techniques like wait time, paired discussions, scaffolded sentence starters, and exit tickets to encourage participation from all learners. 
    • Observe not just the final answer, but how students arrive at it. Did they collaborate effectively? Did they utilize different strategies?
    • Use your observations alongside formative assessments to personalize learning. Provide targeted support or enrichment activities based on individual student needs and learning styles.

    Embrace technology for assessment. Modern classrooms can leverage technology to enhance assessment. Teachers can utilize online quizzes, polls, and interactive activities to gather real-time data on student understanding. Exploring educational apps that provide immediate feedback and personalized learning pathways based on student performance can further empower students. Additionally, screen recording tools can capture student problem-solving processes, allowing teachers to analyze them and identify areas of strength or where specific students might need differentiated instruction.

    Design tasks that are culturally responsive. To ensure assessment is culturally responsive, consider designing tasks that connect math concepts to real-world situations relevant to students' backgrounds and cultures. This can be achieved by offering multiple assessment options that support different learning styles and cultural backgrounds. For example, students could demonstrate their understanding through visual representations, storytelling, or multimedia presentations. 

    AssessmentPromote student engagement and learning through presentations. Presentations are a valuable tool for students to showcase their learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach might not work for everyone. To make presentations inclusive and engaging, consider offering students a range of presentation options that support different learning styles and abilities. This might include visual, written, digital, or role-playing presentations. By allowing students to choose the format that works best for them, you can help build confidence and promote a sense of ownership over their learning. Additionally, encourage collaborative presentations in small groups, where students can share the workload, practice teamwork, and benefit from diverse perspectives. Remember to provide differentiation and support for all learners and focus on promoting mathematical communication skills rather than flawless delivery. By incorporating peer feedback and self-reflection into the process, you can help students develop critical thinking and communication skills and create a supportive environment that fosters student engagement and learning. 

    Involve students in the development of rubrics. Engage students in the development of rubrics by providing them with guidelines and expectations for their work. Using rubrics both outlines the expectations for students and eliminates subjective grading practices. 

    Conduct student interviews. Don't let misconceptions slow your students down! To address misunderstandings early on, adopt a two-pronged approach. First, casually ask a few students to work out problems aloud while explaining their thought process during homework checks or peer discussions. This allows you to identify common misconceptions and clarify any areas of confusion. Listen for recurring themes and address these misconceptions with the whole class before a major assessment, ensuring students are on the right track. Additionally, schedule individual or small group "Math Talks" to dive deeper into their understanding. Use open-ended questions to encourage students to articulate their reasoning and thought processes. 

    Make writing a routine, not a special occasion.  While it may not be feasible to individually interview each student, you can use writing activities to gather and provide feedback on their understanding. Integrate frequent, low stakes writing prompts into lessons to encourage students to explain their solution steps, reflect on their problem-solving approaches, or create their own word problems to share with the class. Utilize online collaborative documents or journaling platforms for students to write and receive peer feedback. Take the time to thoughtfully review their work, providing quick written feedback to your students before returning the writing activities. By doing so, you'll show your students that you value their writing and are committed to helping them improve. 

    Find a way for students to continue to talk outside of class. Create a class forum or group chat through your school LMS to discuss math concepts outside of class. Encourage peer tutoring and collaborative problem-solving. Set clear guidelines and expectations for respectful online discussions. Regularly check the online forum and contribute to discussions to ensure productive and on-topic conversations. 

    Assign self-assessments to help students monitor their progress. Integrate self-reflection activities after assessments. Encourage students to evaluate their understanding, identify areas of strength and weakness, and set learning goals for improvement. Consider using digital portfolios where students can track their progress, curate assignments with self-reflections, and demonstrate their growth throughout the year. 

    Start small and refine. Experiment with a variety of assessment methods. Don’t feel pressured to implement everything at once. Try out one or two strategies and adapt them to your specific classroom needs. Reflect on the effectiveness of your chosen assessment strategies. Gather student feedback and refine your approach based on their learning styles and needs. Remember, assessment should be a continuous cycle of gathering information, reflection, and improvement. 


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