Tag Archives: Tiered Assessment

Tiered Assessments Take Over

So I’ve been using the tiered assessments more and more these days, and I am really, really liking it.  Perhaps it’s just a taste of what SBG would be if I were to actually try it, but this has been a great “first step”.  In fact, I’m using it so much, that just the other day in Physics, when I gave them a “normal” quiz, I actually felt guilty that I hadn’t properly assessed the students and allowed them to show me what they know!  I felt so guilty that I gave them another quiz, this time based on the tiered assessment idea, and allowed it to replace their first quiz grade!!  Oh, and they all bombed the 1st quiz and aced the 2nd quiz.  Well, they did significantly better, but I’ll bet a large part of that is because I reviewed with the mistakes game on whiteboards, which worked out really well (I gave each group a different question from the first quiz).

Oh, and here are some tiered assessment quizzes for you to peruse and critique!

Precalculus

Physics

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Tiered Assessment in Chemistry

So for the fourth and final week of the New Math Blogger Initiation, our wonderful pro bloggers suggested that we read another teacher blogger’s blog and comment on it, and subsequently blog a response.  I was actually thinking of suggesting this in the comments because it does the very thing that the blogger initiation is intended to do: build an online community by getting teachers reading others blogs and commenting on those blogs while reflecting on what they read and what they teach.  So wohoo, go blogging initiation team!

I’m actually ‘cheating’ a little bit because I didn’t comment on this particular blog post this week (it was perhaps a few weeks ago) and furthermore, I’ve already blogged about the blog post before here, but I really like this idea and think that I should have been doing this all along, so I’m going to blog about it again.  I think I improved upon my first attempt to imitate what Steve and his colleague did.  It also helped knowing I was going to put this Chemistry quiz up in front of a bunch of other teachers, so I think it helped me focus extra-well on making the questions very specific.

Although this is a Chemistry quiz, it’s on significant figures and scientific notation, the latter of which we teach in math, as well, so feel free to take the quiz and use it or modify it!

A list of things I changed or thought about since last time:

  1. I actually made another quiz last week based on the tiered assessment idea, but I made the mistake of covering different topics as I increased in difficulty.  The result was students getting “B” right but not “C”, so now I made sure to make two side-by-side quizzes, so they’ll actually receive two different grades.  Students should also get the easier problems correct before they get more difficult problems correct.
  2. I forgot that our school doesn’t actually give out D’s (oops), so I had to change the “A, B, C, D” to numbers out of 100.  This keeps it relatively easy for grading–if they got one of the two correct, then I give them 5 points.
  3. I focused especially on trying to move up Bloom’s taxonomy.  I still struggled with the “A” question, partly because it’s a written response and that means I have to read responses, but also because it isn’t so much creating.  I guess there’s only so much creating one can do with significant figures and scientific notation…

One thing I’m worried about is that I made this quiz too long.  I hate quizzes that take up a whole class period, and some students will take up the whole period if they’re allowed to.  I also have trouble setting a time limit because I still have a hard time guessing how long it should take students to finish an assessment of any given size.

And since we get bonus points for embedding a video, here’s one reason it’s fun to be a Chemistry teacher (yes, I celebrate Pi day in my math classes even though I don’t teach Geometry…)

Disclaimer: No, those are not my students and no, I did not help in the development of the movie in any way, but yes, I did show this to my students on October 23rd last year!

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Tiered Assessment in Physics

So I want to try SBG (Standards Based Grading), but I got interested in it after I already handed out my syllabus for this year.  What can I do?  Well, I came across this cool idea from Steve Grossberg called Tiered Assessments.  As he explains, it’s not better than SBG, just different, but with a similar idea–you are trying to figure out how well each student understands a very specific set of skills.  Steve used Bloom’s taxonomy to create increasingly conceptually difficult questions.

So I took this idea and tried it on a single quiz for my motion unit.  I did not have Bloom’s taxonomy in front of me, and although I’m only 2 years out from education grad school, I don’t remember it that well, but I do remember “creating” being at the top and I think my quiz moves up the taxonomy as you move up in difficulty.  I also did not warn my Physics students that we would have a quiz, so perhaps it wasn’t the best time to ask them “so, did you like this type of assessment better?!?”, but I did like being able to see where each student sat on the spectrum–and it did really create a spectrum!

Here is the quiz on motion maps (not the most precise name, I know…) if you care to use it, whether as a template or copy it verbatim.  Unfortunately, I realized that each question is tackling slightly different skills as well, so although I like the idea, I would probably have to spend more than just 30 minutes on it to really have it match up as well as what Steve and his colleague put together, but it’s a start!

Please let me know what I can do to improve it, or if you have suggestions for future quizzes such as this (call them “Knowledge Demonstration Opportunities”… I know, I know), or if you’re upset with me for even comparing this to SBG at all, please let me know.  I think that this is a good intermediate step for those of us who may not have the tools to go all out on SBG, although I saw that Frank Noschese has a neat way to do this as well.

Edit: I wanted to let you know that I hadn’t yet taught my students how to solve the “A” type of problem, so while it may seem like a plug and chug–these students actually had to create their own way to solve.  And although a low percentage of them got it, nearly all of the students had good strategies and most of the students make very close guesses based on their models! (Oh, I’m trying out modeling for the first time this year in Physics… I’ll be sure to blog more on that later, too!)

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