At MasteryConnect, we believe that assessments should be used to improve instruction and learning—but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. In fact, getting creative with how you assess your students can significantly improve the assessment culture at your school and reduce the stress associated with “testing”. Keep reading to learn more about five of our favorite formative assessment strategies that can be used for any subject or grade level.
 

#1 Commit and Toss

This activity is sure to get students more engaged in class discussions with an interactive take on answering prompts.

  • Ask your students to respond in writing to a question or prompt.
  • Crumple up the responses and have students toss them across the room or into an empty box.
  • Ask students to go around the room and collect one of the responses (students should notify the teacher if they receive their own).
  • Ask each student to comment on the response they received. They can elaborate, agree, disagree, or add to the idea to engage in the class discussion.

 

#2 List, Group, Label

This activity provides a way for students to identify relationships between words and concepts.

  • Pick a topic, any topic.
  • Have students brainstorm and list words or ideas related to that topic.
  • Break students up into small groups and ask them to group the words by theme or concept.
  • Ask students to discuss their reasoning behind how they grouped the words and label each group based on their findings.

 

#3 Agreement Circles

Encourage your students to pick a side and defend their argument with this interactive exercise!

  • Ask students to form a large circle.
  • Read a statement to them aloud, then give them a few moments to decide if they agree or disagree with the statement.
  • Ask students to move to the center of the circle if they agree with the statement, and stay on the outside if they disagree.
  • Split students up into small groups containing equal proportions with differing points of view on the subject and give them a few minutes to defend their views.
  • Now that they’ve had a chance to discuss both sides of the argument, ask them to come back to the center and reposition themselves in the big circle according to their current opinion.

 

#4 Think-Pair-Share

Students reflect on a question, reading, or task, then write a response down to share and debate with a partner. This strategy can be paired with the Jigsaw strategy in which students read different writings and reflect or sum up what they read, then pair with a partner to compare, compile, or contrast these writings.

  • Students respond to a question or task by thinking about it and writing their responses.
  • Students pair up to share their responses. Together, partners decide on a best response or they collaborate to create a shared response.
  • Student pairs then share their responses in a whole-class discussion.
  • Repeat steps two and three as many times as the lesson calls for and time allows. Though once is adequate to complete the activity, repeating the activity (optional) with new partners may be ideal in some situations.

 

#5 Three-Two-One

This can be used as a comprehension exercise or an exit ticket. Ask students the following questions:

  • What are three things you learned?
  • What are two questions you still have?
  • What is one thing you found interesting?

This exercise encourages students to reflect on what they just learned, while also showing educators the information that stuck and the areas that could use more attention.

 
Have a favorite formative assessment strategy of your own? Share your ideas with us on our social channels!

 

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.

 

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!


 

Teachers will soon have yet another great tool to build better assessments faster with Teacher Item Authoring in MasteryConnect. Learn more about this exciting new functionality and how you can be one of the first to get it!

 

 

Why You’ll Love Teacher Item Authoring

With the MasteryConnect Teacher Item Authoring tool, teachers will soon be able to author their own items to meet specific standards, DOK, and skills. Quickly create formative assessments using published items by accessing your own item bank.

The ability to share these items with colleagues makes the process of collaborating around and building common formative assessments (CFAs) using MasteryConnect even easier. District administrators can also choose to publish a District Teacher Bank, so teachers can quickly search and add standards-aligned items built by others.

When building TEIs with the Teacher Item Authoring tool, authors can choose from over 50 item types that best fit grade-level and subject. Item types include drag and drop, math formula, image highlight, graph plotting, ordering, and more—all representative of the TEIs students may see on district benchmark or end-of-level assessments.

The perfect complement to integrated third-party and district-created item banks, Teacher Item Authoring helps save both time and energy when building high-quality formative assessments.

 

 

Get Teacher Item Authoring Now

Are you interested in getting Teacher Item Authoring now for your teachers? We are releasing it to select MasteryConnect partners who want to be early adopters of the technology.

School and district MasteryConnect administrators may contact their Regional Education Consultant to learn more about how they can have this functionality activated for educators in their school or district.

Teachers, if you are interested in authoring your own items, contact your school or district’s in-house MasteryConnect administrator and let them know!

 

 

 

Join us for a special event to learn about the game-changing model that utilizes breakthroughs in machine learning technology, psychometrics, and data analytics to change the landscape of assessment.

A panel of experts will explore the differences between IRT and the new multi-dimensional Diagnostic Cognitive Modeling (DCM), and you will see how DCM revolutionizes mastery and personalized approaches.
States are seeking new innovative assessment models to replace the outdated No Child Left Behind Era, high-stakes assessments based on Classical Test Theory (CTT) and Item Response Theory (IRT).

This is the future of assessment. Come hear from the world-renowned psychometrician and the industry leaders who have been pioneering this new approach.

Learn More and Register


 

As Anthony Rivera approached the building of his new school, students were chucking textbooks from the second story to the sidewalk of Wallace Avenue below. As founding principal of Pelham Academy in the Bronx, he had no doubt that he was walking into a daunting challenge. But Rivera had a special connection to the community; he grew up in the neighborhood, and he was committed to providing the students there with the best education possible.

Teachers and administrators at Pelham agreed that they wanted to collect as much data as possible in order to identify student mastery levels, but they were initially overwhelmed with the process. In order to get on the fast track to data-driven instruction, Pelham Academy partnered with Teaching Matters, a NYC-based organization dedicated to developing and retaining great teachers, and measurably increasing their ability to give students in urban public schools an excellent education.

Through their work with Teaching Matters, the Pelham team began using MasteryConnect to efficiently collect and analyze student data in real time, using iPads to view data in real time as they moved around the classroom. Then, meeting together as formal collaborative teams with Teaching Matters Consultant Jelbin DeLaCruz, they sat down regularly together to look at data in order to identify gaps and develop strategies to target deficiencies. Their hard work is already showing great results in moving Pelham students forward.

“Earlier this year we began looking at and tracking cohort data,” explains Principal Rivera. “We compared how they performed three years ago to how they performed just this past spring, and what we saw was a 159% increase in student proficiency over that time.”

This impressive growth keeps the educators there inspired to continue the work, and Principal Rivera believes that Teaching Matters and MasteryConnect are making a difference for both students and teachers.

“It was humbling and it was also validating because it provided us with the evidence that we needed to help us see that the decisions that we were making, and the tools that we were using, and the structures that we had in place were all impactful,” he says. “We saw that in the student results.”

Although Pelham Academy is a great success story on its own, it serves as an example of the positive gains made when educators work together to share best practices and instructional strategies with peers in their school and beyond.

“The expertise to solve some of the most vexing problems in schools lies in the schools, and it’s obviously in that school’s interest to share that across the school,” says Teaching Matters Lead Consultant Nick Siewert. “We feel that it is also essential to share with other schools.”

Watch the profile below to see how the educators at Pelham Academy are using real-time data to improve learning for every student in their building and, by doing so, how they are investing in their city.


 

We’re always looking for ways to improve your MC experience. To celebrate the spring season, we’ve launched four new product features.

Our product manager Kyle will show you what’s new in the video below.

 

And for you readers out there, we’ll breakdown the updates below.

 

Android Users, the Wait is Over!

MC Teacher App is now available on Android devices. For those of you who have an Android device, you can now instantly score your assessment by entering your test ID and holding your phone over the bubble sheet. Additionally, you can quickly access student responses and make changes in the moment by utilizing the “edit answers” button in the application. Ready to join Apple users in some serious mastery tracking? Download the MC Teacher app in the Google Play store now.

Get the App

 

Better Accessibility with Text-to-Speech Beta

The Text-to-Speech feature in MC allows students who need accommodations to have assessments read aloud. This is also an effective option for young learners and second language learners who could benefit from hearing a question as they read along.

Text-to-Speech is now available in beta, and it can be enabled at the district level with approval from your district or school’s MasteryConnect administrator. If interested, please contact your Regional Education Consultant for more information or talk to your MC admin.

 

Say More on Progress Reports

We heard you! Now you can say more on your progress reports with two lines of customizable text at the bottom of each report. This is a great place to put a description of mastery levels or even your school motto—you decide! Once the report is generated, your custom text will appear at the footer of each page.

 

Clearer Overview Reports

Gain more clarity about your data on a larger scale with this update to Overview Reports. Because we know how important reporting is for district admins and principals, we’ve improved the look of these charts and graphs. You can now better visualize data between district, class, and tracker charts—ensuring your data is as clear and actionable as possible.

 


Let Us Know What You Think!

As always, we love hearing your feedback! If you have any questions about these new features, please reach out to your Regional Education Consultant or the MasteryConnect Support team.


Not a MasteryConnect user? Learn more at masteryconnect.com/demo.

 

 

We know you’re always on the move.  That’s why we’ve made sure the newest version of the MC Teacher App for iPhone has all the innovative assessment tools you love right on your iPhone. These tools, which were previously only available on iPad, makes it’s easier than ever to personalize learning, target interventions, and personalize learning on the go. 

New features for the MC Teacher App for iPhone include

  • Trackers list and details
  • Student views with mastery levels and performance by standard
  • Raw score assessment creation
  • Standard views with assessments and scores
  • Ability to generate test IDs
  • iPhone X support (we know it’s on your Christmas list!)

Get the latest Teacher App now in the App Store! 

And, as promised, a little note for Android users…

We’ve heard you, and the first version of the MC Teacher App for Android is on its way! You’ll get the power to scan bubble sheets right from your Android phone; no more going back to your desk to get that immediate feedback.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Android news — coming early 2018!

 

Leveraging data for continuous improvement, as you know, can be easier said than done. By working with dozens of school systems around the country, our partners at Schoolzilla have learned best practices to keep any conversation about data positive and productive.

As part of our webinar series focused on using data effectively to drive student growth, the Schoolzilla data gurus will join on Tuesday, December 5th to share their best strategies on how to transform your next data conversation. Whether you’re prepping for a PLC meeting, coaching conversation, or PD session, we’ll help you come away feeling ready to take action for our students!

Sign Up Now!

 
P.S. If you’d like to tune in but aren’t available, please register and we’ll share a recording you can watch at your convenience after.