Updated: Jul 31, 2022
Kicking off the assessment series with a review of the key points to be considered surrounding summative assessments. Happy reading!
Keep the statement of inquiry in mind - plan the assessment around the global context, key and related concepts. That means you shouldn't just be testing content or facts. It also means asking other teachers from other schools for their assessments may not be the most helpful tactic for your students (unless you taught the exact same unit).
Use the command terms - and make sure students know what they mean. Go over them in class, have them displayed in your room or even include a glossary on the assessment. Get into the habit of having them in bold in the questions so students know what is expected of them in their answer. “Write down” has very different expectations to “discuss”, for example.
You don't have to assess every strand in the criteria all the time. As long as they are all assessed twice across the year, an assessment doesn't need to cover all of criterion A for example.
Speaking of the criteria, build on this with task specific clarification. This helps you as much as the students. For example, the strand may say “describe these patterns as general rules consistent with findings” and alongside you could write “write a rule for the perimeter of any n-sided shape, which follows on from your observations in part c”. This can be used as a marking and feedback tool as you can colour code which strands were met so students can easily see what their next steps should be.
Moderation and standardisation - let another set of eyes check your assessment as pitched at the right level, will take the right amount of time and is phrased well. Also get those set of eyes check your grades before you give them to the students - your definition of a 5 needs to match the criterion so best to get that validated! Certainly if another teacher teaches the same subject and year level, they are the perfect match. Otherwise, utilise anyone (or everyone) in your department, especially when you are first starting your assessment writing journey.
Give the students reasonable notice. Your school may or may not have a policy on this but a minimum of 2 weeks gives students an opportunity to plan towards their deadline. Having a transparent system in place so all teachers can see all deadlines also means that you can plan summatives with the students' wellbeing in mind - no one wants 3 tests and a long term project due on the same day!
Plan for accommodations as early as possible. Extra time, a translated paper, larger print, booking an extra room, asking a colleague to be a scribe or reader...don't leave these things to the last minute. Know which students need what and make it work.
This applies more for longer term assignments, but include an academic honesty policy document if there is an opportunity for plagiarism or collusion. This could be reiterating the expectations or even asking the student to sign and submit a document stating that what they hand in is their own.
Ongoing formative assessments should be preparing them for the summative. More on this in a future post but the point is, we're not hoping to catch the students out. There should be no complete surprises on the day.
In keeping with this, your teaching should include teaching about the criteria. In MYP Maths, criterion C is all about communication. Therefore, in the unit they should have had opportunities to learn about when graphs, diagrams, tables, calculations, written explanations, formulae etc. were the best form of communication in different settings.
If your school does e-assessments, start introducing the format in the older years, setting your assessments on assess prep. For maths, that means getting them used to the on-screen Desmos scientific calculator as early as possible.
In the same way, if you want to prepare your students for DP exams, enforce the 5 minute reading time before they pick up their pen - it encourages them to plan their approach and really think about the task before diving straight in.
Have spare equipment ready to lend out - yes, they should have a pen or a calculator or their laptop charger...but is it really worth them receiving a zero because they couldn't do the task? That being said, your class your rules…
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and we will definitely delve deeper into the how-tos over the next few weeks, but hopefully that was a helpful start. In general, start your unit already thinking about your assessment, but be flexible depending on the route the inquiry goes down. If you have any more tips, please share them below and hopefully it can be of use to another MYP teacher.