One of the aspects of my job I have been wrestling with this year is how to align the practical with the philosophical, especially when it comes to assessment!
A solid tracking tool acts as a record of our observations of student work, our conversations with students, and our assessment of their skills and understanding demonstrated on the products they produce. With fewer products being produced and sent home, such a tracking tool becomes even more critical, as it serves as a reference point when having conversations with families, some of whom are still hung up on marks, rather than having a true understanding of what those marks represent, and how, specifically, their child can move forward.
I recently developed a new template for tracking assessment of each student during our data management unit in Math. While the tracking sheet is comprehensive, I found it somewhat cumbersome to use when trying to jot down on the fly what specific students were demonstrating in class.
Below is a modified version of the same:
This time, the template includes a spot at the top for each student's group number and letter name, in addition to their alphabetical number.
The criteria for the unit are listed down the left hand side, and descriptors are listed across the top. This will allow me to quickly check off the degree to which a criterion appears to be understood or demonstrated (or if it appears to be misunderstood) throughout a unit.
In addition to the growth mindset self assessments, exit tickets and other informal formative assessment I conduct on a daily basis to drive my instructional decisions the next day, I plan for at least 3, or more often 4, more "formal" assessment opportunities and check-ins per class per unit: 1-2 written assignments such as a quiz, test or journal entry, one observation of "work-in-progress" such as when students are working on a problem or other math task, and one conference or conversation with each student. Sometimes I also more formally record feedback from exit tickets students give me.
I also check homework 2-3 times each unit and record this on the same page.
This way, by the end of the unit, even students who have missed a class or two have had at least three opportunities to show what they know. Provided they have taken advantage of said opportunity, and have not spent work time horsing around with friends rather than working on their assignment, my tracking sheet for each student provides a fairly wholesome picture of progress over time. The more checkmarks there are towards the right of the page, the higher the mark on the report card. If I am unsure, I can check the notes I have made at the bottom of the page.
It's not a fool proof method, but with so many students to see over the course of a 10-day cycle, I am hopeful that this tracking sheet will provide a more concrete recording of evidence of student learning.
I'm still trying to decide whether to send these sheets home at the end of each unit, or whether to file them for my own reference. I would be interested to hear from other educators who are attempting to implement the research on descriptive feedback vs marks to see how they/you balance the desire to provide and track authentic feedback while still meeting the requirements of our province's archaic report card system, and keeping the lines of communication open with families. Please feel free to comment below, or email me here.