Monday, February 10, 2014

Diagnostics in Accelerated Math

The more I work with Accelerated Math, the more I like what diagnostics bring to the table. Essentially, diagnostics are quick and easy way for students to master objectives without a ton of practice leading up to the test.

There are a few reasons why I would recommend using a diagnostic on an objective rather than practice, practice, test.
  1. Catching Up Quickly.  A while back, I talked to a couple of teachers who have been using AM for years.  When AM switched to the Common Core objectives, they found those objectives to be harder for students than the non-Common Core.  They backed the kids up a year and used diagnostics to work them through that year quickly. 
  2. Review. You're fairly certain students know the objective already.  You taught it already, it's a review of last year, it looks easy, or whatever.  You just know that a large majority of your class will know the material already.  Great! Give them a diagnostic to see.
  3. Assessing Learning. You just taught a lesson on square roots and you want to see if they learned the material. Instead of assigning 20 problems out of the book, give the whole class a 5-question diagnostic on that objective.

A diagnostic will give 5 questions on each objective assigned. (Be careful and keep your diagnostic short: 1-3 objectives at a time.) 
  • If your student does well (4 or 5 correct) the objective is mastered and will come back to visit in a week.
  • If your student does not do well (0-3 correct) the objective is rolled into the practices and students will practice till they get it and can master that objective on a test.
With all this talk about mastering objectives, please remember the real goal is student learning. The objectives make for an easy method to measure that learning - what and how much. The reality is that a diagnostic can help you quickly assess who knows material and who doesn't.  Those who have grasped it can move on to harder skills.

However, it is easy to see who has not mastered an objective and needs some extra 1:1 or 1:small group help.  Working in that small ratio can help your student learn these skills quickly with personal pitfalls identified and worked through alongside a teacher who can give undivided attention.

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