Don’t get us wrong—we think there’s a place for a good bubble sheet now and again. But as assessment strategies continue to expand and change, so do the possibilities for incorporating performance-based assessments in the classroom. Performance-based assessment requires students to demonstrate and apply specific knowledge or skills, fostering deeper understanding and retention of their learning.

We asked our team of Regional Education Consultants, who are all former educators, to share their advice on how to make performance-based assessments most effective. Here are three best practices on which they all agreed.

#1 Keep it Aligned

Start by identifying your goals. What do you want to measure? How do you intend to measure it? The key to a successful assessment is ensuring that it has been properly aligned to your specific standards.

Writing the standard in a clear, concise “I Can” statement can not only help you to tightly align the standard with the correct skill, it also communicates to students on what they should know and how you will evaluate them. Once you have a clear picture of what students know and don’t know, you can provide additional support to close that gap.

Many resources exist to help you dial in on the specific standards for your subject and grade level. Check with your district for support materials, collaborate in your PLC, or use online tools specifically designed for standards-based education (like the MasteryConnect State Apps and Resource Pins.)

#2 Keep The Feedback Flowing

The sooner a student receives feedback, the more likely it is to have a positive impact on learning. Some summative assessments, typically administered at the end of an instructional period, often don’t communicate to students about their progress until days, weeks, or even months down the road. However, performance-based assessments often create instant opportunities to provide feedback and start a dialogue with students about their own learning.

When you provide students with immediate feedback as soon as learning happens, students have a greater understanding of where they are and where they need to be. During a performance, students may be asked to explain why they made certain decisions or even re-attempt to show mastery of a skill.

Be sure to keep the feedback relevant with clear steps for students to progress toward learning targets. Quickly address any misconceptions, so students can correct it before moving onto new skills. But, perhaps most importantly, provide comments that explain your feedback in detail so students understand how to improve.

#3 Continue Self-Evaluating

Meaningful assessment provides the opportunity for both the student and the teacher to reflect on learning. For the teacher, this involves reflecting on what’s happening in the classroom, then making appropriate instructional adjustments and interventions to improve student outcomes. For the student, this means analyzing individual learning and setting goals for future growth.

As you know, teachers are always learning how to best support their students. What worked for one student may not work for another, and you have to be willing to try something new. When we have a clear picture of what students know and don’t know, we have the opportunity to revise our instructional approach and try again.

Ideas for Performance-Based Assessment

Now that we’ve covered what makes performance-based assessment work, here are a few ideas for performance-based assessment you can try in your classroom!

Presentations give students the opportunity to teach a skill, report on a topic, or persuade others.

  • Teach the Class – Teach a lesson to the class by presenting on an assigned topic.
  • Data Project – Gather, analyze and interpret data to the class.
  • Book Report – Present on key themes, characters, and settings from an assigned reading.

Multimedia Projects allow students to be creative and develop an understanding of different mediums and platforms.

  • Video Series – Create a how-to video series.
  • Podcast Series – Host a podcast series on a topic relevant to the course.
  • Blog Series – Design a blog and self-publish a collection of writing samples.

Group Projects promote working collaboratively and developing interpersonal skills that will be valuable throughout a student’s education and career.

  • Campaign building – Create and build deliverables for a marketing campaign.
  • Research project – Divide and conquer on an assigned research topic.
  • Organize an event – Create an event plan for a school-related event, assigning specific roles.

We would love to hear how you are using performance-based assessment to identify student levels of understanding in your classroom. Tweet to @MasteryConnect to share your best ideas.

 

Summer may be over, but there is still plenty to celebrate. The MasteryConnect team has been working hard all summer on nine new features so you can go back to school in style!

This year you’ll get great new features that make it even easier to do two things more effectively:

  1. Create quality assessments that improve both teaching and learning.
  2. Organize your data in ways that make it more accessible and actionable for you.

We like to see each MasteryConnect feature as a “problem-solver”. Keep reading to see how we’ve identified nine common problems in the classroom and solved them with a shiny, new feature just in time for the new school year.

 

Better Assessment Tools
 

Desmos Calculators

The problem: The $100 graphing calculator should be a relic of a bygone era rather than a necessity, but students still need a way to graph functions, plot data and evaluate equations while taking a math assessment.

The solution: Adding Desmos calculators to MasteryConnect allows students to show their work using the four-function, scientific, and graphing calculators, and provides them with a familiar experience come testing season. It’s not just students that will love it, though. Teachers can author TEIs with graphing capabilities or add a calculator to any item-based question, making it easier than ever to build quality formative math assessments.

Learn more about adding integrated Desmos calendars to MasteryConnect.


 

LockDown Browser


 

The problem: When students take online assessments, it can be hard to determine if they are working independently to find their answers or if they just have superior internet-search skills.

The solution: LockDown Browser makes it possible to create and deliver online assessments with full confidence that you are providing a valid and secure assessment experience for all students.

If you’re an administrator who would like to activate LockDown Browsers, contact your Regional Education Consultant to learn more.


 

Multi-Select Multiple Choice
 

 

The problem: Sometimes there are two (or three) right answers to a question on a paper-and-pencil assessment, but GradeCam will only recognize one.

The solution: Enhance your document-based assessments with multi-select multiple-choice questions on your printed assessment, then easily grade the bubble sheets with quick-as-a-flash GradeCam scanning.


 

Audio & Video Evidence Capture | Coming Soon!
 

 

The problem: Certain subjects and standards call for performance-based assessments so students are able to demonstrate their mastery. How do you capture the moment or share it with others?

The solution: Take performance-based assessment to the next level with audio and video evidence capture in the MasteryConnect Teacher App. Record and share authentic artifacts of learning, like musical recitals, fluency and expression skills, and student presentations. This is also a great feature for students who need assessment accommodations.

Don’t have the Teacher App? Download it for Apple or Android and keep your eyes peeled for the soon-to-be-released audio and video functionality.

 
 

Better Data Solutions
 

Teacher Benchmark Dashboard


 

The problem: Teachers have had to sort through multiple Trackers to manage their benchmarks, making it difficult to deliver and grade benchmarks efficiently.

The solution: The Teacher Benchmark Dashboard is your one-stop-shop for all things benchmarks! Now you can generate a test ID, push a benchmark out to students, view student responses and grade benchmarks—all from the homepage.

Read more in the MasteryConnect Help Center.


 

Power Standards Tracker Filter
 

 

The problem: Not all standards are created equal. Sometimes you need to see how students are performing on the standards you consider to be the foundation for their learning.

The solution: Now you can filter your data to view only your top-priority standards! We’re giving you all the power over your power standards, making it easier to see what students know and don’t know where it matters most.

Visit the Help Center to see how it’s done.


 

Report Cards

 

The problem: Student data can be overwhelming to parents, making it hard to communicate student performance in a clear and concise way.

The solution: Send student performance data home in style with customizable standards-based report cards, complete with your district logo. Choose to include attendance info, teacher comments, participation data, and more.

Interested in Report Cards? Administrators may contact their Regional Education Consultant for all the details.


 

Better Custom Reports
 

 

The problem: You want to take a closer look at specific data sets, but don’t have the option to customize reports.

The solution: Now you can see your data your way in an instant with the ability to build custom reports directly from your Tracker. This new functionality easily guides you through report creation and allows you to add as many data points from as many assessments as you want, all at once! Because when you have data at the ready, you can more meaningfully impact learning in the moment.


 

Ed-Fi Data Export
 

 

The problem: Data comes in many formats, and it can be a headache figuring out how to export it quickly.

The solution: MasteryConnect is proud to be the first Ed-Fi partner to be certified for assessment API. And now Ed-Fi fans can securely and easily export formative and benchmark assessment data in Ed-Fi format.

Have questions about any of these features?

If you’re a district administrator and you want to learn more about these exciting new features, contact your Regional Education Consultant or call us at (801) 736-0258! Teachers may talk to their in-house MasteryConnect contacts to learn more.

 

We all remember the day we got our overpriced, brick-like graphing calculator. You probably can still see the look on your mom’s face when she saw the price—pure sticker-shock. The funny part is that it’s probably still gathering dust in a box somewhere, because after your last math class, you just didn’t have the heart to get rid of that bulky, and oddly expensive apparatus. We can relate.

Since we’ve all collectively decided that the graphing calculator should be considered an antique rather than a necessity, Desmos online calculators are the new graphing tools to rule them all. They have the same functionality as graphing calculators but, because Desmos is online, students can’t leave them in their lockers. The embedded calculators allow students to graph equations, plot data and evaluate equations right in online assessments—and Desmos is now available in MasteryConnect!

Desmos is all-the-rage in the math assessment world, and is now being used on assessments in 23 end-of-level state tests. Adding Desmos calculators to MasteryConnect will allow students to show their work using the four-function, scientific, and graphing calculators, and provide them with a familiar experience come testing season.

 


 Show Your Work Right in the Assessment

 

And, it’s not just students that will love it! Teachers can author TEIs with graphing capabilities or add a graphing calculator to any item-based question, making it easier than ever to build quality formative assessments.

 


 Add a Desmos Calculator to Any Item

 

With Desmos, you can take your item authoring to the next level with over 27 item types including:

  • Absolute Value Question
  • Desmos Blank Graph Question
  • Fraction Addition Question

 


Add Desmos to MasteryConnect

Desmos is now available as an add-on feature in MasteryConnect. If you’re already an Administrator using MasteryConnect, contact your Regional Education Consultant for more info and pricing (or request that we contact you). If you’re a math teacher who wants to up your assessment game, make sure to let your district’s MasteryConnect administrator know you’re interested in Desmos.

 

Creating a community for educators to connect and share resources is at the heart of MasteryConnect. Streamline your planning process for the new school year by exploring Resource Pins.

Read on for three reasons to use this dynamic feature:
 

#1: Pin to Teach

Need to assign a project or deliver a performance-based assessment that requires additional resources? With the Resource Pins tool, you can upload images, docs and videos into a Student Playlist and share it with your class through the student portal. This makes it easy for you to provide students with the resources necessary to complete projects at home—regardless of the subject.

 

#2: Pin to Collaborate

Resource pins make it easy to collaborate with your teacher team. Imagine being able to pin resources directly to a shared Curriculum Map so you can keep all of your standards-aligned content in the same place. The best part? You can easily bookmark or share resources you find while surfing the web with our Pin Resource bookmarklet or Chrome extension.

 

#3: Pin to Personalize Learning

Student playlists aren’t only for the whole class, they can also be used to assess small intervention groups, too. You have the ability to target students by mastery level and share content specific to a subject to aide in their understanding of any single or set of standards.

 

Learn more about Resource Pins and how to use them here.

 

Susie Owens

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Susie Owens, she’s been teaching second grade for 14 years! Even though she admitted teaching was a second career choice for her, she didn’t waste any time before making a huge impact on students. She currently teaches at Fremont Elementary School in Nevada, but if she wasn’t a teacher she’d go back to her past career of being a roulette dealer at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Keep reading to learn how she avoids burnout after all of her years in the classroom.


 

What subjects have you taught?
I teach elementary so Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Writing

What grades have you taught?
2nd

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
I love to travel.

How do you avoid burnout?
I make sure to take at least one weekend day just for me and my family.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
The kids!

Why did you start teaching?
Teaching was a second career choice for me. I did not start teaching until I was 49 years old! I love to be around kids and to help them to become their best selves.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
BREATHE!

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

What is your favorite book on education?
Phonological Awareness tools and strategies

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
ASK QUESTIONS!

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I was a roulette dealer at the Bellagio Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, NV

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
Each year when my class finally masters addition/subtraction with regrouping.

What is your favorite quote?
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. Albert Einstein

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
One of my goals is that every child in my class knows that they are important and they matter.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
I like the reports features, especially item analysis.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
They CAN do anything!

What is your dream vacation?
A hut over the water on Fiji.

 

The acquisition brings together industry-leading LMS and AMS solutions

At MasteryConnect, we are proud to be a part of the work you do every day. That’s why we want to personally share the exciting news—MasteryConnect has been acquired by Instructure!

Joining Instructure, a long-time MasteryConnect partner, is a natural fit. The deal brings together the industry-leading Canvas LMS, which scales curriculum and high-quality instruction, with the leading standards-based assessment platform. Seamlessly integrated, MasteryConnect bridges the gap between assessment and learning, within the intuitive Canvas environment. But, most importantly, both teams care deeply about improving education, and we find meaning in the difference we’re making.

Moving forward, you can expect the same high level of service that you’ve come to expect as a MasteryConnect partner, and using MasteryConnect will be business as usual. To continue our work, the MC team will be joining the amazing team at Instructure, as will all three MasteryConnect founders. With new and expanded resources, we’ll continue to enhance our tools, while building deeper integrations for customers using both MasteryConnect and Canvas LMS.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for putting your trust in us over the last decade. You are the reason we come to work, and we are all committed to supporting you as you improve educational opportunities for kids.

Again, thank you again for your partnership—we look forward to the next chapter together!

Keep on trackin’

Mick Hewitt, Trenton Goble & Doug Weber
Co-founders of MasteryConnect

Read the Press Release

Featured Teacher:
Amber Denbo

March 30th, 2019

 

Amber Denbo

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Amber Denbo, she’s been teaching second grade for 15 years and has experience as a teacher and an instructional coach! She currently teaches at Oswego Community Unit in Illinois and has taught almost all elementary school subjects. She originally planned on being a biologist, but fell in love with teaching after volunteering to teach field trip groups at a local nature center. Keep reading to find out what her most memorable moment in the classroom is.


 

What subjects have you taught?
All subjects-I’m an elementary school teacher!

What grades have you taught?
1st Grade as a teacher, Grades K-5 Math as an instructional coach

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
Reading!

How do you avoid burnout?
Spending a lot of time with my family

What keeps you excited about teaching?
Connecting with students and having a positive impact on their daily lives.

Why did you start teaching?
I originally planned to be a biologist because I thought teaching would be too hard of a job. While I was in college as a biology major, I volunteered to teach field trip groups at a local nature center. I fell in love with teaching and eventually got my degree in biology and environmental education. However, I found that as an environmental educator, I didn’t get to know kids or connect with them long term, so I decided to go back to school to become a classroom teacher.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Talk less. Smile more.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
Whatever it Takes by Imagine Dragons

What is your favorite book on education?
Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Build strong relationships with your students. The rest of it will fall into place.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
Something else working with kids—potentially a child advocate for foster kids or something along those lines.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
I was sitting around a table with a small group of kids for reading and the first grades were being extra silly that day. I asked them to turn off their silly switches. One of the most serious kids in my class reaches up and pretends to shut a switch on and off and in a no nonsense manner says, ‘Sorry Mrs. Denbo my switch is broken.’ It is the first and only time that I laughed so hard I cried with my student.

What is your favorite quote?
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” by Henry Ford

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
As a math instructional coach, I am working on getting as many teachers as possible (K-5) to implement number sense routines in their classroom.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
The ease of using the app and teacher reports

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
I work with hundreds of students and their teachers each year and the one thing I hope they all get from working with me is to always keep trying new things and don’t be afraid to mess things up! That’s how we learn and grow!

What is your dream vacation?
Anywhere my family is- I’m a homebody and don’t really love to travel, but taking trips with my family is always fun no matter where we go!

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
My proudest MasteryConnect moment has been accepting the ‘Appiest District’ award at MasteryCon in 2016 on behalf of my school district.

 

Think MasteryConnect isn’t for PreK-2? In our latest videos, primary grade guru and Regional Education Consultant Jenna Lagerman will show you why MasteryConnect is perfect for the littlest of scholars.

As a former kindergarten teacher and instructional coach, Jenna used MasteryConnect in her own classroom to identify student levels of understanding for skills like letter and number recognition, counting, and more. See her strategies for small-group and one-on-one interventions, progress monitoring, and evaluating data for next steps.

 

 

PD for Primary Grades

Need more guidance using MasteryConnect for your primary classes? Let us come to you!

Our Early Childhood Core PD is a full day, on-site session focused on teaching early childhood educators to successfully implement MasteryConnect tools in the classroom and capture meaningful data from well-designed assessments.

You’ll get hands-on experience navigating the MasteryConnect platform, assigning and delivering assessments, and evaluating data through reports.

Contact your Regional Education Consultant about scheduling the Early Childhood Core PD day for your teachers. Or fill out a quick form, and we’ll call you!

 

Android users rejoice! The MasteryConnect Teacher App is now available in the Google Play store.

With everything you need to launch and document performance-based assessments on your Android phone or tablet, you can roam free in your classroom, capturing evidence of learning wherever and whenever it happens.

With Teacher App in your pocket, here’s what you can do:

  • Launch assessments right from your phone or tablet
  • Record levels of student learning by uploading photos and notes with Evidence Capture
  • Score bubble sheets instantly with GradeCam
  • Record rubric-based grades for student performances and projects

 


 

See Teacher App in Action

 


 

This on-the-go approach to formative assessment makes it easy for you to assess your way, allowing you to provide instant feedback anytime learning happens—including field trips, performances and other non-traditional learning environments.

Interested in learning more about Teacher App or scheduling a demo? Call us at (801) 736-0258!

 

Jameil Saez Hobson

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Jameil Saez Hobson, not only is he a science and garden education teacher at Kamaile Academy in Hawai’i, he’s also a green thumb who loves to hike in his free time. He loves the GradeCam feature in MasteryConnect because it saves time on grading so he can focus his energy on empowering students to embrace their identities. Keep reading to see how he avoids burnout and what he considers to be the most memorable moment in his teaching career so far!


 

How many years have you been teaching?
4

What grades have you taught?
K-9

How do you avoid burnout?
By surrounding myself with amazing people and going to hikes.

Why did you start teaching?
I wanted to empower students in being proud of their identity and not to always question everything. Inquiry is the basis of science and we must always be open to all possibilities.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Never compromise your morals or ideals and always fight for was right.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
Fuego en la 23 – La Sonora Poncena

What is your favorite book on education?
Igniting the Sparkle – Gregory Cajete

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Be attentive and learn who are the key players at school. Learn from the environment first before trying to do any major project.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
Farmer

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
Sailing in the Hokule’a with my students.

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
I want to travel to Thailand

What is your favorite MC Feature?
100% Gradecam. It’s been so helpful and is one less thing I have to do.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
Never quit and remember that they are warriors.