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Student Self-Assessment

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The math department at Timberline High School, in Boise, ID shares their motivation for and results of using student self-assessment in their classes. 

Our department started using student self-assessment on our quizzes several years ago. This shift from a teacher telling students what they know and what they don't know to students determining what their level of understanding is has had a huge impact on student agency and efficacy. Student know where they are at and where they need to be in the process of learning the material. This shift in self-assessment was lead by a team of teachers at Timberline.

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Jennifer Moriarty
Joni Falk
Kaye Ebelt
Kirstin Milks
Rebecca Cummings
Wanda Bryant
Stacy Adamson


Full Name

I love the ideas presented in this video, and am looking forward to grappling with the idea of implementing them in my computer science/math classroom. 

I'm wondering how to support students in deciding their understanding levels when assessment problems contain multiple standards. 

Mon, 11/07/2022 - 1:35 PM Permalink

We design our assessments so problems are centered around a specific standard. A problem may incorporate aspects from several related standards, but the central standard is the one that receives a grade. 

As we walk students through the problem, we discuss the solutions and potential errors. Students are asked to designate each part of a problem as essentially correct, partially correct, or incorrect. Some teachers use symbols instead, such as checks, x's, and circles. This allows us to discuss the nuance of different solution methods and how they reflect student understanding. Students then combine the parts of the problem into an overall level of understanding.

To further address your wondering, this process would allow us to discuss a part of the problem that comes from a related standard, but not include it in the grading aspect of the discussion. 

Mon, 11/07/2022 - 2:47 PM Permalink
Full Name

In reply to by Joni Falk

You are partially correct. The teacher walks through the problem and the students evaluate their own work. There is a grade attached to the work in the form of a level of understanding. Our department uses standards-referenced grading and each standard is assigned a level of understanding (Exemplary, Proficient, Basic, or No Evidence). The letter grade for the course is determined by the levels of understanding students have on each standard. We do not use any percentages or points to determine grades. 

Wed, 11/09/2022 - 12:01 PM Permalink
Full Name

Hi there Jerod and team,

This is such a great practice, and the document you've shared makes some AWESOME points about homework, practice, and grading.

My classroom experience has made it clear that a grading policy like this one (standards-aligned, plus a form resubmissions/reattempts) is KEY to helping students take risks (like taking AP math courses) and getting better. I LOVE self-grading and do it often on writing tasks in AP Biology -- this is a great reminder to find other places to make it happen so we can have feedback conversations in real time!

:) Kirstin (who also has a video in the showcase!)

Wed, 11/09/2022 - 10:07 AM Permalink
Full Name

In reply to by Kirstin Milks

Thanks for your kind comments. One thing we love about students self-assessing that didn't make it into the video is its effect on our conversations with students. The students are asking questions that focus in understanding the concepts instead of asking questions regarding points or extra credit. 

Thu, 11/10/2022 - 11:30 AM Permalink
Full Name

I do love the idea of self-assessment. I should try this method with my special education students. They say that students learn more from their peers. What if they are learning incorrectly from their peers? Are you able to fix the confusion? Diana

Fri, 11/11/2022 - 12:09 PM Permalink
Full Name

When students are willing to be self-critical, we must give them the opportunity.  This looks like you are the entire department buying in, that is great.

Once it becomes a norm, student recogonize how to do it, they should engrain it and do it on their own.

Let them fix there own problems, because once they gradate they will have to do in on their own anyways.

Sat, 11/12/2022 - 5:49 PM Permalink
Full Name

Thanks, Jerod, for providing the links to your grading practices! I agree, having students self-assess their learning is a powerful life-long skill to cultivate.

As our district is slowly moving towards competencies-based learning, some teachers are a little worried or anxious about it. Did you deal with this challenge? How did you (or would you) overcome this challenge?

Sun, 11/13/2022 - 8:53 AM Permalink
Full Name

In reply to by Elegan Kramer

It was a long process! At first, a couple of brave teachers adopted the standards-referenced grading, proficiency scales, and self-assessment. The discussion surrounding the successes and challenges they faced encouraged other teachers to try it. Even our most skeptical teachers were happy with how the students responded, but it was a bumpy road. Even after 5+ years of pursuing this, our approach to grading and self-assessment is still evolving.

If you are moving in that direction, then I would encourage you and a colleague to pilot it.

Tue, 11/15/2022 - 8:50 AM Permalink
Full Name

Hi Jerod,

This is helpful to me, as I work in a K-8 school and our goal is to have all the students create Digital Portfolios, and participate in their P/T Conferences.  Rubrics are a huge part of this.  Do your students help to develop Rubrics?

Sun, 11/13/2022 - 9:14 AM Permalink

For our AP courses, we rely on the rubrics provided for the AP exam. However, in non-AP courses, the students can be involved in building rubrics. 

One benefit of self-assessment that we did not anticipate was the impact it had on student discussions. The conversations have become more nuanced about the concept being assessed and less about arguing for points. 

Tue, 11/15/2022 - 8:53 AM Permalink
Full Name

I am curious to learn more about the long term skills and success that the students build based on this model.  What you do is a big step toward authentic understanding and self-efficacy. 

Mon, 11/14/2022 - 1:12 PM Permalink
Full Name

In reply to by Jodi Zeis

Thanks for your comment. We have largely relied on AP scores to measure student understanding since it is the only outside measurement that students put their full effort into. The pandemic threw a bit of a wrench in analyzing this data, but overall we have been seeing an increase in passing student scores (by proportion) over the past 5 years. 

Tue, 11/15/2022 - 9:01 AM Permalink
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