Tri-state EQuIP rubric

Every time our math committee meets we are energized by the progress we’ve made but at the same time we feel deflated because there is so much more work ahead of us. Last week we were again reminded that our math units need bolstering.

On Wedesday we once again analyzed our progress using the Tri-state EQuIP Rubric designed by Achieve. For the 7th grade rational numbers unit there are four areas we need work on:

Linking Mathematical Practices to learning opportunities and assessment items.

We hadn’t formally identified the applicable MPs to each learning sheet and activity so we went back and did that. Examining our assessments was next. My colleague and I experienced a giant YIKES on the decimals assessment because hardly any items could be linked to a MP. Since we ran out of time we need to revise those items plus look at the other assessments in the unit.


Explicit writing, speaking, and listening opportunities

We made some progress here by modifying directions on some activities. For example our subtracting integers portfolio was modified to include two peer reviews. The next time I assign this task students will create a draft of their video using Explain Everything then two students will watch, listen, and provide written feedback before creating the final video.


Instructional supports

We have some intervention and enrichment resources but we need find more and better organize the ones we currently have. The rubric also identifies the need for a performance task for the unit. I think we inadvertently listed it in the instructional supports section.


Scoring rubrics and pre-assessment reflection plans

Formally identifying the characteristics of partial credit, high partial credit, and full credit are on the drawing board. We also need to create a pre-assessment reflection plan for students to identify their strengths and what they need to review. This also includes helping them design an action plan before they take the assessment.


Lots of work ahead.


Students’ graphing stories as graphed by MAP

Fall MAP scores, Measures of Academic Progress, are going home on Monday. I plan to briefly interview each student about their personal graphing story so they better understand their progress.  While I can easily disguise my students’ identity, I’m using the image below as talking points for this post. The image is from here.

Example graph.
Sample graph.

I plan to ask the student, “How does your personal graphing story describe your growth as a learner?” My intention is NOT to put the student on the spot, however I do want them to reflect, to recognize we are in partnership, and to help them create an action plan. The above example shows a student whose gap is widening. If this student is receiving special services I won’t talk to him/her about the widening gap, but I might ask them to look at their fall to fall growth from 4th to 5th grade and compare it to their fall to fall growth from 5th to 6th grade.

MAP graph2
Below each student’s graph is a breakdown of performance by strand.

I’ll then have them look at their breakdown of strengths and challenges. I’ll double check their understanding of the Geometry and Statistics and Probability strands then I’ll ask them if they know the meaning of Algebraic Thinking and Real & Complex Number Systems. I’m betting most won’t be able to explain so I’ll need to present them with some examples.

Addressing their weaknesses when we’re not in that unit of study is where I could use your help. Would setting aside one day a week to work on the strands be an effective use of time?

I’d appreciate your help.

Getting kids and parents to focus on the learning–the grade will come. Trust me.

Open House idea. I’m trying to think of a subtle way to impress upon parents that the focus is on the learning not on the grade. Maybe for some the focus is on the grade. However I think parents and students would agree that if we focus on the learning the grade will come.

Since I’m bored, I created two GoAnimate videos that I might use at Open House.  The first is a 30 second discussion about grades.

This one is less than a minute long and focuses on the learning.

This will lead into a nice segue where I can talk about the success students had  last year when they set goals and monitored their progress. I constantly tweak this document so you may notice that it’s not exactly like what’s represented in the image below. Maybe I’ll show the parents what progress monitoring looks like.

progress monitoring
This student needed to be assessed 3 times before she achieved mastery. As you can see the student was honest with respect to the amount of effort she put forth.

My assessments are designed in a standards based grading format (that’s why you see Scores 1-4). Students set a goal of either 3.0, 3.5 or 4.0. Three is the target. My formative assessments are ongoing and students can reassess as long as they complete and follow through on a study plan which is their evidence of study.

I cringe when I hear, “What can I do to raise my grade?” or, “Is there extra credit?”

I want to work with parents and students to reframe those questions to be more like, “What can I do to improve?”

Maybe Open House is the place to start.

Getting students caught up

Julie’s prompt this week is…How do you help students in your class that are behind in math? What a great question.

Here are some reasons I thought of as to why students fall behind:


  •  lack of investment in their own learning
  •  insufficient self-advocacy skills
  •  inability to set goals and monitor their own progress
  •  inattention, social-emotional, or learning disability
  •  absences


  • infrequent formative assessments
  • pacing is too fast for the student
  • lack of differentiation during class or homework
  • insufficient monitored and/or independent practice

BEFORE they fall too far behind

Let me share what happened on Friday. I returned an equivalent ratios formative assessment to one of my classes and six students absolutely bombed it. Fifteen students earned a 2.5 or better (3 is the target, 4 is exceeds the target in my standards based grading grade book). The six who struggled demonstrated a level of proficiency of 1.5 or less. So as a class, they are either “getting it” or they “are not getting it at all”. There is no middle.

This was the first formative assessment so the group hasn’t fallen too far behind. But if I don’t do my job they’ll fall even farther behind.

After we discussed the assessment, I regrouped the class so I could meet with the six students. I assigned a Thinking Blocks online ratio activity to most of the class while I met with the struggling group. We had a conversation and this is what I learned…we were both at fault.

Let’s start with me.

It turns out that my pace was too fast and I didn’t give them enough monitored and independent practice. The short of it is I should have better differentiated this lesson to accommodate their needs. It also turns out that I need to help them develop self-advocacy skills. Students already set goals and monitor their progress (Student Goal Setting 6 RP1), but they need to take it more seriously.

Now them.

I want students to tell me to slow down. I also want them to ask questions. A few are not as invested in their learning as much as I am. I get it; they’re kids. But that also means they’re not old enough to choose not to learn. I intervene by insisting they either attend math lab or schedule a date with me after school.

WHEN they’ve fallen behind

When I pull students for math lab (fourth period) I reteach and monitor their practice problems. If it’s not busy, a student can receive one-to-one attention.  Other times it’s a bit busier where students drop in for help with one problem. Or it can be chaotic where I’m re-teaching two different classes at the same time while students drop in with a quick question.

Math lab fills a need but it is a horrible substitute for when a student misses class. On Thursday, two students who were previously absent thought they could make up an 84 minute lesson on one step equations in 30 minutes. It was disastrous.

In those situations perhaps I should insist students come before or after school. It adds to my day however it also forces the student to have “skin in the game”. I’m well aware there is life beyond school. Kids have after school activities and responsibilities. Those are important yet so is learning. It’s a dilemma.

Providing extra monitored practice, or some re-teaching to get a student caught up is one thing. I can handle that in class, in math lab, or after school. What I haven’t been able to do well is getting students caught up when they’ve been absent. That requires a heck of a lot more dexterity, juggling, and time.

The focus is on the learning: goal setting and progress monitoring

When I say goal setting I don’t want students to think, “My goal is to get an A by the end of the quarter.” The goal is to reach a level of proficiency on a learning standard. And when I say progress monitoring I don’t mean the students should only check their grades on-line. It means the students chart their progress and reflect on what needs to be done to demonstrate proficiency.

These ten minutes of class may be the most empowering time for my sixth graders because it is their time to reflect on their progress. Plus, by shifting the focus from grades to learning the students have put the horse in front of the cart. Granted it has taken some time, but they know the conversation in my classroom is about learning.

I’ve only been doing goal setting and progress monitoring since the start of the year (along with Standards Based Grading), so I would love your feedback on what works for you.  

In my classes, students set goals using Marzano’s 4 point proficiency scale knowing that 3 is the target. Every time students complete a formative assessment, they monitor their progress using a version of this Student Goal Setting 7NS1 document. They keep their goal setting sheets in a three prong folder at school.

It’s a simple but powerful process; students monitor their progress by shading in a bar chart. The visual representation makes an impact. They own their learning, and they identify “growth opportunities.”

Here’s an example:

progress monitoring
Students completed the first section after the pre-test. The second and third sections were completed after each formative.

What I like about the scale is how it’s not connected to a grade. I know that eventually I need to issue a grade, but the focus remains on learning until I need to convert it.

As far as results? When converted to grades zero students in my four math classes earned lower than a 75% in the first quarter. The real test will be this winter and spring when students take the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. I know it’s not solely due to goal setting. Formative assessments and standards based grading are other variables that  enter into the equation.

Hattie’s and Marzano’s research convinced me to try it. My experience thus far has convinced me to continue.

I’m interested in learning how others are implementing goal setting and progress monitoring. Please share your experience.