Above are the two Kindergarten assessments I created. Although my initial purpose for the assessments is to use them with older students, I attempted to make them appropriate for Kindergartners. Full disclosure: I am a secondary math teacher, not an elementary teacher. However, I have read Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics by Liping Ma (fantastic book, I highly recommend it – thanks Jean M.!) I have also been researching elementary math tasks so I can better help a 6th grade student with whom I am working. I’m sure I will learn more as I use the assessments.
Why two assessments? Well, some standards need to be assessed verbally (e.g., counting to 100 or counting out loud). Furthermore, I may want to see and hear the student’s performance. Specifically: How fluently is he adding or subtracting? Where is he hesitating? Even the written assessments are not intended to be completed in isolation; I plan to watch the student as he completes the problems. Again, I will see where he is fluent and where he hesitates or skips a problem. I will gain insight into any misconceptions as well as skills he may be lacking, which will help me decide the concepts I will need to reteach.
Although the assessments may appear to be cast in stone, my intent is to use them more flexibly. So, (and I’m thinking out loud here) after the student demonstrates she can count by 1 to 20 or 30, I would stop and ask her to count by 1 from some higher number to 100 (which actually incorporates the second Kindergarten standard, K.CC.A.2). Ideally, I would then follow up with a question to see if she could explain the counting pattern.
Also, if a student is really struggling with a problem, I would intervene. First I would start by asking some guiding questions to see if he could then figure it out. I might change the problem to be simpler or let him skip it all together. After all, these are not tests; I just want to know where the holes are. It is paramount that I keep it positive, that I keep the student talking to me. Teaching is as much art as it is science. I need to know when to push and when to back off. I need to know my students.
Still, there may be better ways to assess students on these standards. If you have suggestions for how to improve the assessments, I hope you will leave a comment! (I have already seen some assessments that elegantly group multiple standards in a single task, which are intriguing. Although, as my purpose is to determine which concepts students have yet to master, it might be easier to assess each standard individually. I’m still thinking about this.)
Finally, I consider these assessments to be “first drafts” and plan to modify or change them after I use them and see how they work. What do you think? Am I on the right track?