Continuous Assessment - what Mathspace is doing to help

Education Mar 31, 2021

Read part one of the "Continuous Assessment" blog here.

We decided to build a product that tries to address the function of assessment in a way that was beneficial to all parties involved.

To first map out the problem sphere, our team at Mathspace conducted ongoing interviews with teachers, students, and school admins to understand the biggest frustrations they face when it came to assessment.

The problems and solution

The common frustrations which teachers, students, and school admins face

For students, it was reiterated that tests really stress students out, so we needed to find a way to make assessments student-driven, reduce anxiety, and accurately measure what they know.  For teachers, what we often heard was "assessments take up too much time." Teachers wanted to be able to know where students are at, without taking too much time out of class time. Lastly, for school admins, they also need to monitor student learning, as well as track how their school is progressing, without having their teachers lose too much class time.

Breaking this down, we looked at the main requirements our new assessment tool had to do:

  • Measure what matters: align to student learning objectives
  • Make the best use of class time
  • Provide feedback that is meaningful
  • Provide data for teachers and students, and
  • Empower students to take ownership of their own learning and growth

The assessment tool also needed to be "unobtrusive" - it must be easy to implement and not cause further frustrations.

What we built was Waypoints, an online continuous assessment tool that utilizes smart AI-powered diagnostics to track student gaps and growth.

Mathematics is not linear, so Waypoints has a knowledge network that underpins our models (see above - colors signify proficiency levels with standard error (confidence level)). This is something that no other diagnostic tool on the market does.

How does it work?

For Students:

  • They can get started on their own by completing check-ins. These check-ins are short and can be built into a routine (like a warm up or exit ticket). Thus, students are able to perceive them as low-stakes, which in turn reduces anxiety and stress.
  • The check-ins are adaptive so they adjust to each individual student's level of ability.
  • Rather than giving students a final grade, the check-ins reveal student progress by way of a skills report for a comprehensive overview after the diagnostic phase. The focus of the check-ins is on diagnosing where they are at and helping them grow from there.
  • Once students complete 10 check-ins for the initial diagnostic phase, they are able to access a student skills report, which rewards students with "I can..." statements highlighting their mastery and growth. Students are also directed towards what they can work on mastering next (they can learn and practice new skills in Mathspace straight from Waypoints). This actively involves students in their own learning.

For Teachers:

  • The time required for teachers is minimal on Waypoints. Teachers just need to encourage students to do their check-ins, then log in and view their data (real-time).
  • There is no need to take time to create, assign, or personalize the assessments - the check-ins are student-driven, and every time they log in, there's an assessment ready for them to do.
  • Teachers can see mastery data by standard, see knowledge gaps, filter by proficiency for all students, or groups of students, filter by grade, or filter by strand, so that you're able to see any data you want in one place.

Register now for a free trial of our new continuous assessment tool, Waypoints.

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