Assessing kindergartners in math can be a challenge. For one thing, young learners may struggle to express their thinking in writing. With traditional paper and pencil assessments, it can be hard to know if a wrong answer represents misunderstanding a math concept or whether the student is still learning to write or may have difficulty using a pencil. One-on-one interview-style assessments provide better information but present a new challenge—finding the time to complete them with all your students.
I have good news for you! Eureka Math® supports and even encourages you to assess kindergartners during regular instructional time. Eureka Math provides interview-style assessment items for when you need additional information on students’ progress. Let me share how to assess kindergartners in a way that honors your time and fulfills your assessment needs.
Find your assessment tools in the Eureka Math Navigator.
Each Eureka Math Kindergarten module includes a set of assessment tools you can find in the Eureka Math Navigator. If you have Eureka Math in Sync™, you can access these tools using the Eureka Math in Sync platform. Simply log in, select Eureka Math Kindergarten, choose a module, and click on Eureka Math Navigator.
If you don’t have Great Minds in Sync, you can access the Navigator through your dashboard on the Great Minds website. The Navigating the Digital Suite blog post includes links to videos to show you how.
On the right side of the page (you may need to scroll down), you’ll see an Observational Assessment menu. This is where you’ll find the tools you need.
Choose your tool to track student learning.
Eureka Math has two tools to assess your class during regular instruction: checklists and observation cards. You can use both or choose the one that works best for you. Clicking the link for Checklist & Cards opens a document that includes both tools.
The first part of that document is the Checklist. Use the Checklist to track assessment of your whole class in one document. Across the top, you’ll see a list of key concepts to assess for the module, which topic in the module the key concept is taught, and the associated standards. Below are rows for student names to track progress on each key concept.
The second part of the document includes Observation Cards. With this tool, you have a card for each student and you can check off skills from the first half of the module on one side of the card and from the second half on the other side. If you keep them on a binder ring, you can easily carry them as you observe students throughout the lesson.
Assess students as they learn.
As students work, especially during independent or group work time, use your Checklist or Observation Cards to record your assessment. Of course, you’ll want to know what to look for in each lesson. For that, you can click on the Opportunities by Lesson link in the Eureka Math Navigator. When you do, you’ll see a page that shows the key concepts to look for lesson by lesson. This example shows one key concept to focus on in Module 1 Lesson 1. During this lesson, assess students by watching, listening, and asking questions about the key concept and record your observations on your Checklist or Observation Cards.
You may wonder what to do if a student doesn’t reach proficiency on the key concept during the lesson. There is another tool for that. When you click on the Opportunities by Key Concept link, you’ll see all the lessons that focus on a key concept. In this example, you see the key concept can be assessed in Lesson 1, 2, and 3. As you teach each lesson, update your assessment on your Checklist or Observation Cards.
Conduct individual interview-style assessments as needed.
After using these tools to gather information over the course of the module, you may find you need more insight into what some students know and can do with specific key concepts. The Mid-Module and End-of-Module Assessment tasks can help provide that. These more formal assessment items are available in the Teacher Edition. Use them or parts of them to gather additional assessment data for individual students.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when using these interview-style assessments:
- You won’t need to use all the tasks with every student since you’ll already have assessment information on your Checklist or Observation Cards.
- If you know a student is capable of some tasks, skip those and start with a more challenging question.
- If a student cannot complete one of the tasks, stop the assessment rather than continuing.
- The assessment doesn’t always need to be done one on one. It can also be completed in small groups.
- You don’t have to do all the tasks at once. You can sprinkle the ones you need throughout the module.
Young learners’ thinking and reasoning skills evolve over time as they layer and build new knowledge on existing experiences and learning. Use this combination of observations during lessons and more formal interview-style tasks to assess students, adjust your teaching, and help your youngest learners develop and build their math skills.
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Anni Stipek is a Professional Development Implementation Specialist for Eureka Math and based out of the Seattle area.