All fifth graders take a topic test after each of the 16 topics in the math curriculum that is used in my district. These assessments include multiple choice and short answer questions. Each question often has many components and the assessments can take up a lot of time.
To make these assessments more meaningful for myself and the students, I make some whole class modifications.
For each assessment, I choose the "MUST DO" questions. These questions represent all of the skills and standards that the assessment is designed to do. Rather than have all students answer 3-4 questions to assess each skill, I have them concentrate on one.
For this assessment, questions 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, and 15 were chosen.
I choose question 1 over 9 and 14 (all assess the skill of fractions in simplest form) because it was the only question of the three that didn't rely on another question's answer.
I choose question 2 over question 5 because they both ask student to estimate, for question 5, 7/8 is an obvious estimate of 1. I wanted to see what the students choose with a bit more of a challenge.
I choose number 4 because it was the only question that directly assessed equivalent fractions (the students were required to make equivalent fractions for adding and subtraction so I assessed this skill in various places). This question required simplifying without specifically asking.
I choose number 6 because it was the only question that directly assessed common denominators.
I choose number 7,8, 12 and 15 because these questions embed skills into problems. Solving problems involving adding and subtracting of fractions is another standard, so the assessment needs balance between the two.
Students are able to choose to answer the other questions if they would like. They are all corrected, but the students are only assessed on the must dos.
To communicate the scores to students and their families we use a cover sheet for each assessment. The cover sheet lists each of the skills assessed, the standards the correlate to, the questions on the test that aligns with each skill, and the lessons from the text book where these skills were the focus.
I circle each of the must do questions on the cover sheet, then put a √ or x over the number. I include notes to explain an error:
• fact error
• computation error
• Please label your answer
Tests are passed back to students, they are given time to look them over, take a second attempt at any of the problems that were wrong, and then ask questions.
To add variety to the assessment, I add an open response question that is related to the topic. Students complete the open response after answering the "must do's" but before answering any additional questions.
These open response questions are taken from released MCAS questions. I use the provided rubrics and student work to grade the student's writing.
I only put a score on each writing assessment, because I use these as teaching tools for peer conferences and group work. Then, students are provided with a chance to improve their answers.