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Posts Tagged ‘assessments’

One day last fall I experienced a curious phenomenon.  A few of my students scored lower on the informal October assessments than they had on the formal assessment in September.  No progress was being made.  In fact, it appeared as though they were moving backwards rather than forwards.   I looked at the dismal results in front of me and wanted to cry. Well OK, I did cry.

After my pity party, I picked myself up and dusted off my data analysis skills.  I knew that the numbers in front of me meant more than a simple decrease in scores.

I looked at the assessment questions – three-fourths of the questions were multiple choice.  I looked at the responses given by the students.  Interestingly, I noticed that on the most recent assessments, they had either answered the question correctly or did not provide an answer at all.  It was my theory that in September these students made some pretty lucky guesses – not hard to do when you have a 25% chance to guess correctly.  In October, these students were aware of when they did not know the answers and didn’t guess at all.  My students had become aware of what they knew and what they did not know.  That is progress plain and simple, despite the appearance of regression.

Just like the planets in retrograde motion appear to be moving backwards, it’s all a matter of perspective (well and some physics).  My students were moving forward in the same way that Mars follows an elliptical orbit around the sun even though the data points show otherwise.

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