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.

 

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!

 

Aw, a brand new semester full of new learning opportunities, and…roster updates. If your school or district is importing sections through Clever, and you find that you are either missing students or have “extra” ones, you can quickly update those new rosters to your existing Trackers.

Follow these step-by-step directions to get your rosters in tip-top shape for Spring semester.

  1. Click on Trackers, then find the tracker you want to connect; click on Edit under the tracker name.

 

  1. Select your class from the Link to Classroom drop-down menu, and click on Update.

 

  1. Make sure the number of students in your tracker matches the number in the classroom you are linking to and the section is the correct semester roster. If there are any hiccups in matching the students, you’ll receive an error message.

 

When a student is moved from one classroom to another during the school year, you can easily transfer that student’s information (including mastery levels and scores) to the new teacher’s Tracker if the Tracker is not connected to a section.
 

In order to do this:

  • The student must be transferred within the same school
  • The new grade level and standards must be the same
  • The student must have been manually added to the Tracker (students added as part of SIS sections can not be transferred using this function)

 

How to do this:

  1. In the Tracker, hover over the student’s name and click Edit.

 

  1. On the Edit Student dialog, click Transfer.
    Note: If you do not see the Transfer option, your student may have been added as an SIS section, and you will be unable to transfer them using this function.
  1. Click the Transfer to Classroom drop-down menu and select the tracker to which you want to transfer the student. You will only see trackers from teachers in your school with the same standards.

 

  1. The student’s information, including mastery levels and assessment scores will now appear in the new tracker with all the existing data.

 

To better protect the owners of copyrighted materials, we have updated our MasteryConnect Online Terms and Conditions. Please review the updated terms of use to ensure that you are uploading and sharing copyrighted materials in adherence to the MasteryConnect Terms of Use. Setting an accurate privacy setting for each assessment is the best first step.

MasteryConnect makes it easy for teachers to build, upload, and share their assessments with other teachers in the online community. However, we are also committed to protecting the rights of content providers—both companies and educators—who create and sell K-12 lessons and assessments. To protect copyrighted materials, we have multiple privacy settings to limit who can see and use uploaded materials.

Check Your Privacy Settings

When uploading assessments into MasteryConnect, it’s important that you choose the correct privacy setting to prevent protected materials from becoming publically available. Every time you upload an assessment, you’ll be asked to set the level of privacy.

There are four levels of privacy you’ll choose from:

  • Share with the community (recommended)
  • Make this material private to me
  • Make this material private to my school
  • Make this material private to my district

 
Be sure to check the conditions of your protected materials in order to set the accurate privacy level. We also suggest you do a quick review of previously uploaded materials to make sure the privacy level is accurate.

As another layer of defense against copyright infringement, the MasteryConnect team continually monitors the community to update privacy settings when necessary. If we find a copyrighted assessment, we will change it to the “private to me” setting and send a message to notify the user that we have adjusted the privacy level and why.

Help Protect Copyrighted Materials

If you see an assessment that should not be public, you can reach out to the user who uploaded it by either commenting in the box below the assessment or sending the user a private message. We appreciate your help in protecting our online community!

 

We know that educators have a lot on their plate at all times. That’s why MC Support Specialists want to help you get the support you need with as little back-and-forth as possible.

Here’s what we did to make submitting a Support Ticket more efficient:

  1. There’s now a section for ‘Additional Information’ that gives you space to include specific information about your issue. You can now include the names of students, teachers, trackers and assessments, so we can address the problem you’re seeing right away.
  2. Support tickets are now shorter than ever, so it takes less time to submit a ticket and less time for us to resolve your issues.
  3. No need for you to pull information about your browser or operating system every time you submit a support ticket anymore—we’ve got you covered! We now automatically include that information to make it easier for you to get the help you need.

Get more information on how to submit a support ticket here.

Have a MasteryConnect question? Visit our Help Center for articles and video tutorials. Or get one-on-one help from one of our Support Specialists by submitting a support ticket here.

 

Beginning next week, you will have a new option for organizing and printing progress reports. You will  be able to print alphabetically by grade, making it easier to create, print, and distribute reports.

To organize and print alphabetically by grade within a school, simply select the checkbox on the Create Progress Report page as shown below.

For more information on creating Progress Reports, visit our Help Center article.

 

Last month we announced an exciting new feature—Teacher Item Authoring— and our partner educators are already loving the functionality. This feature gives teachers the tools to create over 50 item types, while building and sharing their own personal item banks. (Missed the announcement? Read it here.)

The launch of Teacher Item Authoring makes it the perfect time to hold professional development dedicated to implementing, improving, and expanding usage of item authoring in your school or district. Our PD experts have a variety of options to deliver hands-on instruction to ensure maximum effectiveness and best practices when creating and managing items.

Our Item Authoring PD Sessions are right for you if…

  • you recently implemented Teacher Item Authoring.
  • you could use support in creating your own district item bank.
  • you would like a more in-depth look at the specific functionalities within Item Authoring, including all the awesome technology-enhanced item types.
  • you feel confident creating items, but would like some guidance from an MC expert on creating quality assessments with your own item bank.

The best part about these interactive PD sessions is the one-on-one time you’ll get with an MC specialist to help you build your item bank.

Interested in scheduling a session? Please contact your Regional Education Consultant for more information—or fill out the form on this page and we’ll call you! And be sure to ask about our limited-time PD specials that are available now through December 21st.


Want Teacher Item Authoring?

If you’re a school and district administrator and you’re interested in activating Teacher Item Authoring, please contact your Regional Education Consultant for more info or call us at 801.736.0258.

Teachers, if you are interested in authoring your own items, let your in-house MasteryConnect administrator know!