Reality: Providing students multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding may require more time and effort on the part of the teacher.  Reassessments may be initiated by the student, the teacher or both.  

Approaches to consider:
[Note: None of these approaches in isolation are to be considered a “silver bullet.” A combination of these approaches that is flexible, customized to your discipline and is well communicated with parents/students is strongly recommended.]

Increase feedback opportunities prior to assessments that are entered into the gradebook.  

  1. Students complete practice assignment and receive feedback.  
  2. Students complete exit slip and receive feedback.  Teacher uses exit slip information to shape future instruction.  
  3. Students complete quiz and receive feedback on how they’re doing related to the standard.  
  4. Students complete another assessment.  Teacher enters current level of learning in the gradebook.  
  5. Teacher or student initiates future assessment opportunities.

Drawbacks to this approach: Students may not initially be motivated to try on the early assessment attempts.  [Possible solution: Talk explicitly about students about the value of practice]

Strengths of this approach:  Because students have received feedback multiple times before the standard was entered into the gradebook, more students will have demonstrated a high level of understanding and fewer will require additional assessment opportunities.

Teacher-initiated re-assessments: Looping standards on future assessments.

  • After students complete an assessment which is entered into the gradebook, students participate in learning opportunities based on standards they have not yet demonstrated understanding.  For example, students complete covering Quiz A on standards 1-4.  Students later complete Quiz B covering standards 5-8 and 1-4.  

Variation:  Differentiate Quiz B by student.  If Johnny aced standards 1-3, he would only need to complete prompts for standards 5-8 and 4 on Quiz B.

Drawbacks to this approach: Students must wait until the next assessment to demonstrate their understanding.  In addition if all students are completing all of the same assessments, students may complete an assessment on standards he/she has not even thought about since the first assessment which is a losing scenario for the student (similar poor performance) as well as for the teacher (extra work marking the assessment).  

Strengths of this approach: Students are guaranteed reassessment opportunities during class and do not need to learn a new protocol as this approach may seem very natural to them.  In theory this approach caters to timid students who may not otherwise seek out reassessment opportunities.  

Student-initiated, individualized re-assessments: Require students to complete _____ before they can take the next optional reassessment.

  1. Johnny completes practice assignment(s).
  2. Johnny completes first assessment that goes into the gradebook.
  3. Mrs. Smith uses first assessment to differentiate instruction to students.  Johnny and his classmates did not do well on standards one and two, so she devises a new lesson to help the class better understand these big ideas.  
  4. Johnny completes second assessment that goes into the gradebook.  Newer evidence of learning replaces old evidence of learning.
  5. Johnny is not satisfied with this “not yet proficient” on standard one.  Because he completed his practice assignment, Mrs. Smith gives Johnny three options.  (If he did not complete his practice assignment, he would need to do this first.)  He must complete at least one of the following options before he can complete a third assessment.  
    1. Complete extra problems from the textbook focused on standard one.  
    2. Respond to a big idea question after watching an instructional video and/or (re-)reading a portion of the textbook.
    3. Participate in an outside-of-class individual or small-group tutoring session with the teacher.

Variation: Allow the student to suggest an option for #5.

Drawbacks to this approach: If students can only complete reassessments outside of class, it creates an added burden on students who are involved in jobs or activities during non-school hours.  Timid students

Teacher-initiated, individualized re-assessments: Require students to complete _____ before they can take the next optional reassessment.

Utilize the approach above with a little more teeth.  Require students to complete re-assessments and one of the three options during class.

------------Hold on, what does this look like?-----------------------

Beginning of the unit/semester:
Mr. Townsley gives each student a handout listing all of the standards.  

“These are the standards we’ll be learning.  They come from the state standards list, but I’ve re-written them to make a little more sense to you and me.  I am going to do my best to ensure every one of you learns these big ideas at a deep level.  You won’t see specific tests or quizzes in the gradebook, however you will see your current level of understanding of each of these standards listed in the gradebook.”  

Mr. Townsley engages students in an small group activity in which students use their previous knowledge of Pythagorean’s Theorem to develop a relationship among the sides and hypotenuse in various 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 triangles.  The activity has several checkpoints where groups are required to raise their hand and check with the teacher before they can continue.  During the activity, Mr. Townsley is circling the room listening in on student discourse so that he can direct probing questions towards groups/students that may have come up against common misconceptions.  The last prompt on the activity asks students to generalize the two different right triangle relationships.  Once completed, students end the class by completing a small, carefully selected problem set focused on 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 triangles.  The answers are posted in the front of the room and will be posted online, too.

As students enter the room, they are asked to complete three tasks:  First, students who may not have internet access or who have not yet checked all of their answers, do so using the answers which are still posted in the front of the room.  Second, students write the numbers of problems they’re still struggling with in the box next to the solution set.  Third, students complete two warm-up problems which ask students to apply their knowledge of 45-45-90 and 30-60-90 triangles.  Students are encouraged to work in pairs or trios if they are experiencing difficulties.  Mr. Townsley circles the room to provide feedback to students as they complete their warm-up problems.  Next, Mr. T. has a decision to make. Will he take the time to go over #12 and #29 from last night’s problem set?  He uses his professional judgement based on student’s struggles and successes the previous day on the activity and their warm-up problems to decide how much time he should spend going over these two problems from last night’s practice set.

Mr. Townsley teaches another standard today and utilizes another small, carefully selected problem set.

Students enter the room and complete the same three tasks.  Mr. Townsley teaches another standard (or two) today and assigns a small, carefully selected problem set which also includes a few prompts connected with standards taught earlier in the week.  

Repeat the three student tasks, however the warm-up problems are focused on all of the standards taught so far this week.  Mr. Townsley has a decision to make.  Are his students ready to complete a more formal assessment of the standards taught so far this week?  He uses the information from today’s warm-up to determine that many students appear to be ready, so he hands out a carefully constructed quiz.  Prompts on the quiz have been carefully constructed to assess students’ understanding of all of the standards taught so far this week.  Before students turn in the quiz, they’re asked to assess their own level of understanding of each standard using a rubric at the end of the quiz.  

Mr. Townsley spent time Thursday night writing feedback on students’ quizzes.  He also circled where he thinks each student is on the rubric for each standard.  

(Example rubric)

Rather than handing back the quizzes to individual students, he calls them up in pairs.
“James and Suzie.  I’d like you to review your quizzes together during the next five minutes.  Earl and Horace, here are your quizzes.  I’d like you to get together to review your quizzes right now, too.”  
James and Suzie will soon find out they can immediately help each other out.  James dominated the 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 triangle standard, but he bombed the rest of the standards.  Suzie did very well on all of the standards, but she had no clue what she was doing on the 30-60-90 triangle prompts.  Earl and Horace are in a similar situation.

Overall, students continued to struggle with the standard Mr. Townsley taught on Wednesday, so he decides to teach it an entirely different way after students collaborate on the quiz.  All students are asked to complete a small, carefully selected problem set on this standard to end class.  In addition, Mr. Townsley lists optional problems next to the name of each standard on the board, so that students who would like extra practice in this area can quickly and easily check their newly acquired understanding.  

Option A: No numbers are entered into the grade book yet, however Mr. Townsley tells students and emails all parents to let them know about the feedback opportunities so far and that the test will take place on _____.

Option B: Numbers are entered into the gradebook based on students’ current level of understanding of the standards taught so far.  Mr. Townsley reiterates to students and parents (via email) that the grade book is like a thermometer - a current, but not static, reading of students’ level of understanding, and that the test will take place on _________.  The test score will replace the quiz score for each standard.  

Monday - Thursday (week 2):
Mr. Townsley teaches several more standards and administers another quiz.  This time, no single standard stands out as needing to be retaught to the entire class.  Before students complete the review assignment from the book, Mr. Townsley asks them to look at the list of standards they’re doing really well on right now.  The problems corresponding with these standards should be completed last.  After circling the problems corresponding with the standards students have not yet demonstrated a high understanding, they’re working in pairs and trios, checking their answers in the front of the room.

Friday (week 2):
All students complete a test covering all of the standards in the chapter.

Monday (week 3):

“You will notice that I did not give you an overall score on your test. Instead, you see a number for each standard.  Think of me like your volleyball coach.  I’m trying to tell you if you’re good at serving, need help with bumping, etc.”

Option A (continued): “These standard scores are now in the gradebook.”
Option B (continued): “These scores replaced the standard scores from your quiz in the gradebook.”

“I am guessing that some of you are not satisfied with your standard scores.  I want you all to learn these big ideas. If you would like to complete a reassessment on a standard or two,  you will need to complete one of three options...
1.  You can complete the problems I have listed over here for a specific standard.
2.  I will be available tomorrow after school, during Seminar A all week or before school on Wednesday for re-teaching sessions.
3. You can read pp. __________ and complete the activity on p. _________.
When you’ve completed one of these three options, speak with me to schedule your reassessment.  See you soon!"