This past school year, 2018-2019, our school district adopted a platform called School City. The goal was to roll out a math assessment for each grade level, each trimester. I was fortunate to be the 5th grade representative from my school! As the representative from my school, I got to work with other 5th grade teachers in our district, as well as our two district math coaches, to design these end of trimester assessments!
The purpose of our School City math assessments is to assess student learning, collect & analyze student data, use the data guide our instruction, & provide interventions on our district’s essential standards, referred to as BELS (Box Elder Learning Standards).
As a team, we met multiple times throughout the year. We had trainings on question writing, DOK (depth of knowledge), as well as on the platform itself (where to find everything & the variety of question types). Through an efficient process, we determined which BELS would be tested in each trimester and designed a blueprint for how many questions would be given per essential standard, a target “completion time”, as well as the number of DOK 1, 2 & 3 questions per standard.
After we had a blueprint, we worked together to come up with a variety of question types for each standard and DOK level to create a district/grade-level item bank. Creating questions looked different throughout the year. We created questions as a School City team, individually, as well as with our building level PLCs. Each meeting we would bring back our questions, give each other feedback, and get them ready to be entered into the School City item bank.
Being on this team provided a lot of learning opportunities for me! Aside from the platform or test itself, I learned how to write better questions while making sure I am hitting different DOK levels instead of just DOK 1 (although this is something I could use more training and practice with). We were able to do a district wide data dive as a School City team and analyze strengths and weaknesses in the test as well as teaching practices/strategies from those who were more successful in certain areas (a great opportunity for collaboration!). I was able to see strengths & weaknesses in my own data and learned a variety of tools within the School City platform to help me interpret data. I also gained a better understanding of the 5th grade math core as well as our district essential standards!
The first year was a pilot year, and there were definitely flaws here or there, but more important than the flaws, in the process, we gained a lot of valuable information about how to be better for our students moving forward.