Reflection: Data Analysis Unit 1 Assessment - Section 3: Written Assessment & Choice Board


Reflection on Why Unit 1 Assessment Scores are Consistently Low: 

The first assessment in science each year is always the lowest.  In 8 years of teaching 5th grade science in my district I have found that to be true every year.  I think it has to do with the fact that students in our state are not tested on science until 5th grade so it is not a big focus until 5th grade.  They aren't used to the style of questioning, reading charts and graphs, etc.  I also believe that the first unit which is focused on scientific processes is one of the most difficult for them.  I am training them to think like scientists, a train of thought they have not yet experienced.  This is why I always begin the year with this unit and then continue teaching it throughout the year with all other standards.  

Reflection on Data:

When completing my data analysis sheets (Data Analysis Unit 1 Assessment - Class 1 Blacked Out and Data Analysis Unit 1 Assessment - Class 2 Blacked Out) I found some interesting trends.  Keep in mind when looking at my data analysis sheets that 10 out of 20 students in each class are ESE students, many of which are also ELL, so your data will probably look much different. One trend I noticed that was true for both classes, is that understanding why scientists conduct repeated trials was a strength.  Almost every student understanding this concept so it does not need to be an area of focus moving forward.  Another strength I noticed in both classes, was in the area of scientific processes.  These questions were over the steps of the scientific method and the engineering design process and comparing the two processes.  Students clearly have a good understanding of the format of each process used by scientists.  We will continue to use these processes throughout the year as we work through the other standards so it will be constantly reviewed.  It is clear the students understand the steps, so instead of focusing on the steps, I will focus on other areas of weakness while working through the processes.  

Areas of weakness that I can identify from the data analysis include models, variables, testable questions, control groups, and analyzing data.  We will continue to create models throughout the year and I will need to focus on their importance and how they are useful and relevant to the science we are doing.  I plan on giving students one homework assignment a week focused on analyzing data in charts and graphs.  This will help them practice this very important skill which will also be useful in math.  I was surprised at how poorly students did on the variable questions.  They were struggling with variables in the beginning but I have really made a point to emphasize these when going through experiments.  We also played the Can you Name That Variable game several times for practice.  They seemed to be doing much better so I was confident they would be able to perform well on these questions.  I think instead of identifying variables whole group, I will have groups identify each type of variable for experiments prior to conducting them.  I will have them work together to create a list of variables on a white board and then all groups will share with the class before we create a list in our notebook.  

Compared with the questions that students performed well on, those over variables, models, testable questions, and analyzing data, were higher order questions.  Those comparing scientific processes were lower level questions.  The questions about variables were lengthy reading questions, which students will see on state testing.  The questions about models and testable questions required students to select more than one correct answer which is higher level.  Those requiring them to analyze data required the ability to interpret information from a chart or graph which is also higher level.  This tells me that students need to be exposed to more of the higher level questions on homework, morning work, games, etc. 

Exemplary Question: 

In my school district, we grade students with proficiency codes instead of letter grades. Throughout each unit, teachers provide students with opportunities to earn exemplary marks.  This is a task that requires students to go above and beyond what the standard expectations are.  They are a way to assess which students can explain their thinking, and think more in depth about a standard.  These are not meant to be simple tasks, but are higher order questions requiring explanation.  Question 18-20 on the assessment was an exemplary question.  On average about 4 - 5 students will earn this mark.  On this exam, I only had 1 student earn exemplary performance.  I did have 2 others that missed it by one minor error, they listed the independent variable incorrectly, but had everything else correct.  Students are provided multiple opportunities throughout the year to earn these exemplary marks for each standard.  

  Data Analysis: Data Analysis
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Unit 1 Assessment

Unit 1: Scientists at Work
Lesson 16 of 16

Objective: SWBAT to score 80% or higher on their end of unit assessment.

Big Idea: Students demonstrate their knowledge of standards in two ways, by completing a written test consisting of multiple choice and extended response, and by earning 50 points from choice board projects.

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