Noticings and Wonderings…

Today was Day 1 of the final math MAP testing for this school year.  As I wrote yesterday, I spent the day conferencing with my 125 students on their desired progress and setting goals.  Here are my takeaways so far:

  • I don’t feel that my advanced class did any better than they would have with the “old” way of setting goals (in which I set their goal for them based on the last MAP score–I usually just added two points and made that their goal). I think this is due to the fact that they just try hard no matter what.
  • This is a multiple choice test, so is it REALLY gauging what they have learned/know/have mastered? Or is it testing how well they guess at *stuff*? I tend to go with the latter…
  • Based on my last statement, I find it hard to believe that a student REALLY answered the following correctly:log equation
  • It’s supposedly adaptive, so what did the above student do in the previous questions to get that monstrosity??? (I’m sure it’s a very nice equation and quite friendly at that…it’s just not something I’ve taught my students…nor do I plan to in the near future.)
  • As I walked around to see how/what my lovelies were doing, I came to the conclusion that a few of them were just guessing on some of the questions so they could be done with it and move on…regardless of whether they knew how to solve it or not.  Which might explain my above bullet points…
  • Going back to the statement about multiple choice questions:  do multiple choice tests really have a place in assessment? Where is the escape hatch for bailing out of questions students have NO CLUE how to solve? They shouldn’t be rewarded if they accidentally get a question correct by guessing…
  • Because some of them were just guessing at random to be done (on questions I knew covered material we have seen and played with in class)  made me question my teaching…and then I slammed on the brakes with that line of thinking and yelled at myself, “What if it’s just their culture? We live in a society of instant gratification….they DON’T. KNOW. HOW. TO. STICK. WITH. IT!” But then I was right back to questioning my teaching…
  • Then I got to thinking, “Hmmmm….I wonder how I would score on this?”
  • NWEA thinks there  needs to be 54 questions to test for competency?? Really??
  • As they were finishing and filling out their post-its with their final score, I decided that I have learned some valuable information about the kind of person each student is just with this one minor adjustment to how their goals were set.  Some set goals 1 point above their previous score, which tells me they either don’t have a lot of confidence in their math skills (in which case I need to help them with that), or they are insecure as people and don’t want to set their sights too high for fear of disappointing themselves. Some set goals 8-10 points above (and I let them do it just to see how it would go during testing), which tells me they are competitive by nature and want to push themselves to do well. Some of those students met or exceeded their lofty goals and they were glowing when showing me their post-its…it was awesome!
  • Just because a student takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R to take the test doesn’t equate to progress.
  • MAP supposedly “makes” a calculator available for questions when necessary. My students found a way around that by double-clicking the mouse button and getting the Google Calculator.  I don’t know whether to fault them or applaud them for using appropriate tools strategically.
  • I feel that because they owned the goal, they took the test more seriously and took their time with it….and the more genuine their joy when meeting or exceeding their goal (not just their previous score) and the more palpable their disappointment with lack of progress.
  • I realized I need to do more number talks…I wish I had started with these earlier in the year.
  • And finally, as the day started winding down, I found myself staring at this thinking it looks like those scary metal spider/octopus thingies from Matrix Revolutions:  

3 thoughts on “Noticings and Wonderings…

  1. I so get your frustration with the MAP test adapting. My advanced pre-algebra kids always get so many trig questions and it is painful to watch. I love how your kids used their “tools strategically” that is priceless!

  2. Christopher says:

    I don’t know whether to fault them or applaud them for using appropriate tools strategically.

    Ha! The latter for sure!

  3. Do multiple choice question really help us assess whether the child has grasped the concept well ? I think not…instead, in my opinion, it builds the habit of making smart guess..which I think in long run does no good wrt to the subject they want to master or know more about.

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