Posted by: degarcia | December 16, 2008

Assessment in the Elementary math classroom

Why assess?


It is important for teachers to have a running record of their students’ performances in math. Assessment mingled with instruction provides a way for teachers to keep track of progress. As teachers assess they simultaneously monitor, document, and grade student learning. Assessment is an ongoing process that informs and guides instruction. Teachers should use assessment results to make instructional decisions. Teachers become aware of students’ needs and areas where they are struggling as they review assessment outcomes. As teachers monitor student learning, they learn about their students, about themselves as teachers and the impact of their instructional program (Tompkins, 2006). Assessment is also crucial to create a sense of responsibility among students, as they will become more responsible for their learning when there is constant assessment and opportunities to grow (Bahr & de Garcia, 2010).

Key factors when Assessing


Assessment must contain validity and reliability in order to be of value to teachers.

· Validity: Refers to the accuracy of an assessment, whether or not it measures what it is supposed to measure. This is necessary for teachers so they can accurately determine student learning from the given assessment.

o Content: Extent to which the content of the assessment matches the instructional objectives.

o Criterion: Extent to which scores on the test are in agreement with or predict an external criterion. (Ex: How aligned classroom tests are with state tests)

· Reliability: Refers to the extent to which assessment are consistent. Must have consistent measurement of student achievement across students, as well as, internal consistency between each item.

(Classroom Assessment:

Forms of assessment


· Formative: On-going assessments, reviews, and observations in a classroom. Use formative assessment to improve instructional methods and student feedback through the teaching and learning process. This assessment is considered most beneficial for the teacher and the students. Through periodic quizzes and performance tasks, students are able to monitor their own progress.

· Summative: Typically used to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs at the end of a pre-determined time. Summative assessments are used to make a judgment of student competency after an instructional phase is complete. This assessment is considered for the teacher, student and parent.

Formative Assessments

Summative Assessments

Anecdotal records

Final Exams

Quizzes and essays

State-wide tests

Diagnostic tests

National tests

Lab reports

Entrance exams (SAT and ACT)

Traditional assessment:

Familiar Assessment Tools: Tests, fill-in-the-blank, matching, True or False, problem-solving, short response

Alternative Assessments:

Math exit slips: 2 question quizzes, given at end of math instruction

Interviews: Primary math interview (similar to CGI Interviews)

Graphic Organizers: Venn diagram, right-angle chart, KWL chart

Observation: Problem-Solving observation checklist, anecdotal notes

Creative Performances and Exhibitions: Pictorial math problem solving

Self- and Peer-Evaluations: Problem solving rating scale, reflective focus questions

Journals and learning logs: math log, number talk, visual reminders

Portfolios: Written and graphic work, Student autobiography on math experiences

Reporting: Report cards, grades, conferencing

Works Cited

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (collection of assessment strategies) Accessed 12/16/08.

Bahr, D. and L.A. de Garcia (2010). Chapter 3. Elementary Mathematics is

Anything but Elementary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Classroom Assessment. Accessed 12/16/08.

Tompkins, Gail E. (2006). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach. Pearson Prentice Hall: New Jersey.



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