Test days are just depressing.

After all of the effort to bring energy and excitement to the classroom test day comes and all of that life is sucked out of the room. I’ve done my best to limit the number of testing days but my district mandates five standards based common assessments, or tests are “common” for all US History classes. The unspoken expectation is that these are summative assessments used at the end of a standards based unit. This year I wanted to transition these assessments to make them more useful – to make them into formative assessments.

Step 1 – Retakes

The first step in this process was to allow some form of retake. After some experimentation I settled on a “Credit Recovery System”. I have modified a multiple choice question evaluation form from Blake Harvard that students can use to earn FULL CREDIT back for each question that they missed. In our district meetings we have been told that one purpose of the Common Assessment is preparation for the state mandated End of Course Exam. If that is true then I want to make sure the student understands why they missed the question and then how to make sure they don’t get fooled again. To facilitate this I created a Google Doc with the form that students can physically print and handwrite their recovery. I have also turned the form into a Google Slides presentation and created a Google Classroom Assignment where every student is given their own copy of the slides. This gives them the option to complete the work digitally. In either case, this process allows students to focus on their personal mistakes rather than forcing all students to review the test as a whole group.

Each question is one slide on the Google Slide Test Credit Recovery Form.

Step 2 – Provide Better Data

The district links each question on the Common Assessment to the South Carolina US History and Constitution Standards. We have one common assessment per standard and each standard is broken down into six separate indicators. This means that I will get a report on each student that gives me a breakdown of each students’ performance within each of the various indicators. So…. why not give each student their own report. I have taught the students how to read their test reports and then how to act on that information. The use the test report to determine which indicators they struggled with and then merge this with the credit recovery to improve their understandings.

Student 1 – Raw Score of an 82.3%
Student 2 – Raw Score of an 80.5%

These two students had nearly identical Raw scores (about a 1.5% difference) but the way they achieved that score is pretty different. The second student struggled more with 3.E and 3.CX. Since this student knows how to read the data it tells them that they need to improve their “evidence” skills and they need to refresh their Gilded Age economics knowledge. Student 2 also can see that they excelled in 3.CE, 3.P, and 3.CC. Instead of saying they received a low B, student 2 can tell their adults that they received As in those indicators and will need to recover some credit in the other 2.

Merging the Data and the Credit Recovery allows students to grow towards mastery.