Math Assessment for Growth Mindset

We're getting close to the end of our summer collaborative book study. Today we're reviewing Chapter 8: Assessment for Growth Mindset. This book is FULL of gems & my brain is hurting because I'm rethinking so much of how I "do math"! If you missed some of the other fabulous chapters, you can catch up here:
Chapter Summary
Chapter 8 begins with convincing evidence that we must change the way we assess mathematics! "The knowledge needed for success on such tests is so far from the adaptable, critical, and analytical thinking needed by students in the modern world that leading employers such as Google have declared they are no longer interested in students' test performance, as it in no way predicts success in the workplace. (Bryant, 2013)" p. 141 Hey, if Google says we need to rethink testing, then. . .
What was also interesting were the numerous studies that show not taking tests but focusing on meaningful feedback and problem solving led to higher scores. These results are attributed to having a growth mindset; these children had been taught to believe in their own capabilites and the feedback they received was helpful to their learning. (Read: no "good job")
My Takeaway
Have you seen the documentary, Race to Nowhere? It's a powerful film, highlighting the stress students are placed under in U.S. schools. I've experienced firsthand, the craziness of high school through my oldest daughter. Everything she did in high school was "for my college resume." What?! I had never heard of such a thing. That fear of not getting into the best universities is what motivated my daughter and all her friends: the classes they took, the clubs they joined, the activities they pursued. She admits that she memorized material to pass tests but couldn't recall any information later. It saddened me to never hear her talk about the joy of learning.  True, she graduated with a 4.0+ GPA & she goes to an excellent university. But my heart broke when she called me during her sophomore year and said, "I don't know why I'm here. Everyone is smarter than me. I don't know what I want to do with my life." Just like the premise of this film, with all our teaching, we need to be asking the questions, "What does it take to produce a happy, motivated, creative human being?"

Three Tips for the Classroom
Reflect, reflect, reflect. Although we're always pressed for time, the few minutes students take at the end of a lesson to reflect is valuable to internalize new learning. I'm going to have my students glue these Big Idea prompts into their math notebooks to guide their reflections. You can download your copy here or by clicking on the picture below.
The damage with over-testing our students is taking its toll. Ego feedback (this term was new to me) is a form of feedback based on a grade or score. Students (& parents) cannot help but use those scores to compare themselves to others around them., and often use these as indicators of who they are as people.  We must move from grades to meaningful feedback.  True, writing feedback takes longer than running a stack of scantron tests through a machine, but students need to be able to demonstrate their understanding of content, then the feedback specifically gives them strategies to get to their next step or goal. A4L: Assessment for Learning was developed in England and found to be highly successful in empowering students to take control of their learning. Students no longer sit back passively, waiting for the teacher to give them a grade.

This chapter was full of alternative means of assessing students. A few that I want to implement this year are: more student self-assessment, exit tickets, and students developing the test questions (this will really tell you what you thought you taught & what students actually learned!)

Be sure to stop by next Thursday; you don't want to miss our final chapter and a GIVEAWAY!!


  1. I loved the A4L system! I want to look into it a bit more. I also love your reflection questions! So many good ideas!

    1. Thanks, Jodi! The reflection questions have been very helpful glued into the students' math notebooks!

  2. Reflection is so important but is often left out because of time. I think a quick little nugget from each student about the day's big idea is a great way to end the math lesson and a necessary lesson component for teachers to make decisions about the next day's work and students to help their brains make connections. Your Big Idea poster can be a great visual and reminder!

    1. I know I've been guilty about cutting out reflections due to time but I"m trying to be more intentional about reserving those extra 10 minutes!