More Than What Meets the Eye

I had the pleasure of scoring my students Unit 2 Expressions and Equations common assessment or post test. We had covered the targets for a while so I felt confident in what the students would display on their assessments.

The test was composed of 14 multiple choice questions and 1 constructed response, 4 part question. It covered 4 main learning targets: Factor and Simplify Expressions, Write Expressions, Evaluate Expressions and Solve Equations. This information is all relevant and important because of the standards based grading approach I apply within my classroom.

For common assessments, we are required to post the scores within our gradebook. According to our school improvement plan, students should score 80% or higher on the assessment. And when you have many students not meet that goal, it’s easy to say, “My students don’t know and understand this concept!” That is unless you take a closer look.

Now remember, I told you the 4 learning targets assessed on the test. Students had an opportunity to show mastery on any of the 4 targets. If they did, that score was record within the gradebook as well.



At first glance, we see these students did not pass the assessment with a 80% or higher. Now take another look at what each student mastered. So instead of the thought my students don’t know this, I know specifically which targets the student knows and which he or she does not. I think more importantly than that, students are able to see which target they need extra practice. They’re in turn able to check of a target on the mastery chart.

IMG_3275.JPG This picture was taken prior to scoring the unit 2 common assessment.

When students are ready, they complete the mastery assessment and the updated score is entered into the gradebook. The newly entered score replaces the old, lower score. I think this beats having to retake an entire assessment when it was 1 target that you needed to redo in order to show mastery.


  1. This is so beautifully explicit and helpful for folks journeying alongside you towards mastery of managing standards-based classrooms/grading. I love that the students have taken ownership of their mastery goals. Sweet!

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