Monday, November 10, 2014

Scoring the EM4 Assessments

This fall one of the tasks Lisa Demick and I have taken on is  to create a scoring guide and new cover sheet for the new Everyday Math units in grades K-2 (Next fall for grades 3-6) that is compatible with each school's report card format.

I have taken the answer guide Everyday Math provides for the Progress Check assessment at the end of each unit (I will be working on Unit 4 shortly), and have added details about how to score each item.  Here are some details you should know:

  • Many items have been divided into two parts for scoring purposes.  For example:  "How many apples are left if Tate eats two apples from his bag of six apples? Explain how you found your answer."  This question would be divided into two separate questions that address two separate standards.  The "How many apples" part might address standard 1.OA.4, while the "Explain.." part might address a standard for mathematical practice (EM4 calls them "goals for mathematical practice, or GMP's) like GMP6.  If this was item #1, I would call the first part #1A and the second part #1B.  Item #1A would likely be worth 1 point for the correct number of apples, four.  Item #1B would be worth at least 2 points for a complete and accurate explanation of the how the student found the answer.
  • Sometimes a student's response might not exactly match up with the scoring guide.  For example, the sample answers given for a score of 2 and 3 might not match your student's response which appears to fall somewhere in between.  In this case, you can use teacher discretion to determine which it should be, or consult with a colleague or even myself.  
  • These are brand new and there may be errors.  For unit 1, I made a number of errors that teachers alerted me to, and I was able to fix them.  If I make changes to a scoring guide after you have used it to score the assessments for that unit, do not feel like you need to go and re-score all your students' assessments.  If you see errors or typos, please let me know in an email (or in person!) and I will address the issue as fast as I can.    
  • The score guides are somewhat time-consuming, especially at first, but once the assessment is scored the transfer to the cover sheet should get easier and faster in time.   
  • The cover sheets show goals based primarily on clusters of standards, which are groups of Common Core content standards that fall into a sub-category (between standard and domain).  We are using clusters on the cover sheet to simplify the scoring/reporting process and make it more straight forward to calculate a grade on report cards at the end of the trimester.
  • From this point on, these score guides should be ready and shared with all 1st and 2nd grade teachers as Google Presentations in the grade 1 and 2 folders well before you assess your students on that unit.  Up to now, we have been racing time a bit to complete the guides before the unit has been taught.  I think I am catching up, though.
  • Please invite me to PLC meetings if there are questions regarding the scoring guides, and bring sample student assessments so we can address specific issues with scoring assessments as they arise.
  • Open Response questions, and some others, are difficult to score.  First graders in particular have trouble showing their thinking in words.  This has already prompted some parent feedback suggesting we are asking too much of a student in the first grade.  Please keep in mind that most first graders and many second graders have never answered this type of question on an assessment before and will have difficulty doing so.  I am trying to be gentle in the scoring guides when it comes to showing partial understanding (a "2" on the cover sheet).  But some students will score a "1" on an open response question and have higher scores on the rest of the assessment.  The goal is to work with these students throughout the year to help them show their thinking on paper more proficiently and earn higher scores on Open Response questions.
  • Challenge questions are optional and are often not attempted by all students.  They offer opportunities for students to go above and beyond what is expected.  If a student leaves a "challenge" question blank or does not attempt any challenge questions, that should be reflected on the cover sheet as a "NA" for "not assessed."  If challenge problems are incorrectly answered, a "partial" score of "2" is usually given.
  • Most assessment items allow a maximum of 3 points scored on the cover sheet.  This is because the majority of assessment items do not allow a student to "exceed," or go above and beyond mastery.  When an item offers the possibility of a response that "exceeds" expectations and/or the standards, it will be possible to score a "4" on the cover sheet for that item's standard/cluster.  

No doubt there will be more questions and further revisions to the guides.  Thank you for your patience with these scoring guides and also for your feedback.  


  1. Great posts, Tate!
    Going back to the whole issue of asking students to explain their thinking, I'm wondering if some more digging can be done into EM expectations. In particular, I KNOW that at least one time (possibly on a Math Boxes page?) EM used this wording: "use drawings, numbers or words" to explain. I remember this so clearly because when I saw it I was so excited to see such similar wording to that which was regularly used in the Investigations math program. Their standard phrasing was to ask for explanations of math thinking "using pictures, numbers and/or words." Back when we used Investigations at MSS, it could be downright thrilling sometimes to see the ingenuity and clarity in the visual explanations some kids came up with. If there's any hope to encourage and honor that kind of expression on the pathway to writing clear explanations in sentences, I would love to know about it:)

  2. Yes, I have seen that phrasing (Use drawings, numbers or words) before as well. I encourage that kind of expression whole-heartedly! Let's talk more about this. I am sure we can find out more from the EM people about the intentions and expectations relating to their open-ended questioning in assessments and other assignments.