Mid-Mission and End-of-Mission assessments are formative assessments administered roughly half way through the Mission and at the conclusion of the Mission respectively. For 1st–5th grades, these paper assessments consist of open response items that require students to show their work or explain their thinking in a variety of ways, including drawing models and writing explanations. In Kindergarten, each paper-based assessment is designed to be administered interview style where teachers record their observations of the student’s work and thinking. The assessment items vary in their focus, ranging from items that highlight a student’s understanding of a big mathematical idea to items that are more focused on students’ procedural fluency.
For the 2019-20 academic year, Zearn is releasing new Mission-level paper assessments that are available as part of a paid School Account. These assessments have been revised in several ways:
- Focus: All questions assess student understanding of content focused only on the specific Mission and do not include questions that extend beyond the scope of learning. For example, the G3M6 End-of-Mission Assessment was edited to remove the need for students to complete a problem that is not an explicit expectation of the target standard, 3.MD.3. The revised assessment redirects the focus to the expectation of the target standard by asking students to create a scaled picture graph and solve a problem using information presented in the graph. Additionally, assessments do not contain any problem-solving contexts that are unrelated to the mathematics focus of the specific Mission. For example, the G2M3 Mid-Mission Assessment is no longer grounded in a money context; rather, it focuses explicitly on place value concepts, making it easier for teachers to determine each student’s level of mastery with the focus content of the mission.
- Timing: Mission-level assessments are designed to take about 30 minutes and intended to be delivered on a Flex Day. The variability of time required per assessment was reduced to provide greater consistency. In many cases the total number of problems per assessment was decreased to enable more standardized assessment timing. For example, the G2M5 Mid-Mission Assessment was reduced from 22 problems to 12 problems, which still allows for rich feedback on student learning for teachers while reducing both time spent assessing and time spent analyzing the assessment.
- Problem Structure: Assessments are built around open response items that require students to show their work or explain their thinking in a variety of ways, including drawing models and writing explanations. Each part of any multi-step problem has a clear objective, is aligned to standards, and allows teachers to identify whether students are struggling with the foundational math concept or the multi-step aspect of the problem. For example, G5M1 Mid-Mission Assessment was revised to create more distinct, independent parts by removing the need to use solutions from earlier work in the assessment and instead giving students a number to use, allowing them to focus on the objective of that individual item.
Zearn Math provides an answer key for each Mission-level assessment that contains the exemplar student response for each item along with specific standards alignment information. Exemplar student responses should not be viewed as the single correct answer or solution method because many of the problems on a Mission-level assessment allow students multiple entry points and acceptable solution paths or strategies. Rather, the exemplar responses should be used—along with Curriculum Study PD—to inform teacher feedback. Given the coherent structure of Zearn Math, if unfinished learning is evident, teachers should move forward with additional supports and address misconceptions during Small Group Lessons and on Flex Days, understanding that the unfinished learning may best be completed by connecting it to new ideas presented in the latter half of a Mission or a subsequent Mission. Students with unfinished learnings should also be supported during flexible math time or other specific intervention time with work on Foundational Missions.