When I was in high school, my teachers simply lectured, tested, and moved on to the next chapter. Each unit was a standardized performance repeated by the teacher every year; anything we missed was content lost and most of us finished the year with holes in our knowledge.
The tech tools and apps available today make it so easy to fine-tune instruction to address the specific deficiencies of individual students. This is especially important given the massive cumulative exam our APWH students take in May of each year. Moreover, those of us who use a formula to adjust raw percentages into “AP” exam scores know that students can pass our tests and still have gaps in their knowledge. I am going to share the method I have implemented to collect data from my students and customize remediation accordingly and to address weaknesses in my own teaching as indicated by the College Board’s Instructional Planning Report.
The “radar” I use to acquire student data is a fantastic app called ZipGrade. For those of you unfamiliar with this app, it transforms your smartphone or tablet into a scantron machine that instantly grades and collects data on student assessments. (Watch this video for a great introduction.) One of it’s most powerful features is the ability to “tag” questions according to any criteria you wish, and then extract the results in many ways. For AP World History, I tag each exam question with a Key Concept, a Historical Thinking Skill, and, in the case below, the type of stimulus used by the question:
As you can see above, question #27 assesses Key Concept 2.2.II.C., the skill of Interpretation, and is a stimulus question that uses an image. I differentiated stimuli by type because my Instructional Planning Report from the College Board indicated that my students need to improve on image analysis.
What I love about this app is that I can scan each student’s exam as they finish and never leave my desk. When the last student is done, I have access to the performance details of every student and can view the data by each tag. Here is a general report about the class performance:
Teachers can see not only what percentage of students got each question right, but what percentage of students answered each distractor as well–great for identifying possible weaknesses in my teaching and in the test itself.
But the feature I use the most to fine-tune student remediation is the ability to see individual student performance in each tagged criteria. For example, in the report below I have expanded the performance of an individual student for Key Concept 2.1.I.B. Of the questions assessing this item, the student only got one correct.
Since I’ve tagged with Historical Thinking Skills, I can see how each student did with each skill. Questions 2 and 5 assess the skill of Contextualization. This student seems to get it.
So what happens with all this data? I print a report for each student showing their weaknesses in the Curriculum Framework. They complete a remediation assignment tailored specifically to their deficiencies. For this Period 2 test, for example, I give them a list of tasks pertaining to the Key Concepts in Period 2. Students research and write responses to each one, ensuring that their remediation focuses precisely on their weak areas. No two students have the exact same remediation assignment.
This app’s potential for directing meaningful formative assessments is obvious. As I mentioned above, the College Board’s Instructional Planning Report (which is issued to all audited teachers after AP scores are released) indicated that my teaching needs to incorporate more image analysis. I added image stimulus questions to my formative quizzes and, by creating a separate tag for these questions with ZipGrade, have been able to track student improvement.
Love this app and looking forward to next year’s IPR.