In my last post I wrote about how you can get good data from the SBA Interim tests. Today, I want to share with you some ideas for using the test as a formative assessment or instructional tool. According to the official Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments Overview document, “The interim assessments are considered non-secure and non-public.” This means that only official school employees can access them, and we cannot publish them, but we can use them as a teaching tool in our classes.
In my school this year, we are working on getting students to use all the elements of a complete answer (answer, evidence, and explanation). Unfortunately, there are not many short answer questions (constructed response) in the interim blocks, but you can find more opportunities in the practice test. The practice also comes with scoring guides and is completely accessible to everyone.
Eliciting and Interpreting Evidence
First, give an interim test to see where your students have holes. Using my last blog post will help you find the data on each student. You can use this information to target weak areas in the multiple choice questions, but you need to be looking at the constructed response questions as you are in the Teacher Hand Scoring System (THSS) to determine where they are missing the mark. I have heard of several ways to record student answers for use with teaching. Some people have the students hand write their short answer, others have them type it up in google docs, some just copy and paste the answer from the THSS. I can no longer copy and paste or print selection through the THSS in Google, but I do not know if this is the case in all browsers. I can, however, use “print selection” from AIR Ways.
Acting on Evidence and Clarifying Intended Learning
I wrote a different post about academic conversations, and using discussion while having small groups focus on one of the multiple choice questions would be a great way to develop understanding of the required skills. The data report tells you the “worst” 5 questions, so you could focus on those. Make sure you clarify the intended learning clearly to the students. At this point, the focus should be understanding question and answer construction as well as how to identify the best answer. The Smarter Balanced item writing instructs that answers need to be plausible. There should be no wrong answer options, so students need to understand the shades of grey involved in finding the best answer.
Multiple Answer Discussion
Have students discuss the question and answer without giving them the answer. Similar to complex instruction for math, students should discuss and work out the answer for themselves. Then, groups could present their answers to the whole group before you, as the teacher, review the questions and answers. You can do this through the Assessment Viewing Application. At this time, you should be clarifying the intention of the questions and focusing on what type of evidence they are eliciting.
Short Answer, Constructed Response Scoring
For short answer, constructed response questions we like to take the students through calibrating their own scoring. Most of the scoring sets have a teaching set and a practice set, and we use these, or something like it, with the students. Then, after going through the practice set with the students and calibrating their scoring, have the students work on a few student responses in their groups. Try to give them a variety of 0,1,2 answers and ask them to notate why they gave those scores based on the rubric.
On the next assessment, you should see improvement, specifically with constructed response answers. We have found that having students look at exemplars and practice scoring greatly increases their meta-cognition about correct, complete answers.
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In my non-teacher consumed hours I love to spend time with my husband and son, play board games, sew/craft/quilt, and read (I DO teach ELA).I aspire to be more into fitness and outdoors more often, though I find a comfy chair and a good book/movie mightily appealing.