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Curriculum Insights • Assessment in K-5 Math

Scott Erickson, Head of School

PBS is committed to regularly reviewing and understanding the results of student learning. This process includes research-based and externally normed assessments. Teachers use these to understand student achievement so they can improve their instruction. Assessment data informs how we improve the math learning of individual students in addition to strengthening our overall math curriculum.

The way schools assess student learning has changed a lot in the past 10-15 years. Organizations like Learning and the Brain have brought new research and best practices to schools. Strong assessment practices enhance the faculty’s ability to offer each student the right amount of challenge and support in math. With that as background, please take a look at the FAQs below.

What formal assessments do PBS teachers use to evaluate math learning?

  • Unit pre-assessments (beginning in 1st grade), mid-unit checkpoints, quarterly Number Corner checkups, and unit post-assessments, all of which are research-based and reflect national standards for learning at the corresponding grade level
  • PBS teachers will send home assessment materials at the end of each unit in 1st through 5th grades. They will include a letter outlining the concepts covered in the unit and in the assessments. They will also suggest questions that parents may use to engage with their children about math learning.

What informal assessments do PBS teachers use to evaluate math learning?

  • Math work places, Number Corner discussions, math forums in which students are invited to share their thinking with classmates, and written assignments like project work, homework, and checks for understanding
  • These assessments inform instructional practice and differentiation throughout the unit. The objective: Each student’s learning is targeted to their current understanding of specific knowledge, skills, and concepts.

How do teachers use assessment data to improve their instructional practice?

  • PBS uses an internal data management tool called Forefront. Teachers review data to assess individual student learning, plan for subsequent lessons, and assess knowledge, skills, and concepts.
  • Michelle Donahoe regularly meets with teaching teams to look at individual and aggregate student learning data in Forefront. This helps the faculty understand each student’s learning progress and reflect on their own pedagogical practice to best challenge and support our mathematicians.
  • As an example, all grade levels are currently concluding their first unit. Teaching teams will engage in data discussions on the following prompts:
    1. Where was the class most successful in math? To what do you attribute that success?
    2. Which question type(s) caused the most difficulty for your students?
    3. Consider the questions themselves and some student work samples that you have. How do you see the evidence of your instruction in the student results?
    4. What implications does this have for your math teaching in the next unit?

How does PBS use assessment data to improve the overall program?

  • PBS reviews the results of an externally normed standardized test called the Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) from the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). The ERB-CTP is administered in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.
  • We study aggregate learning data to inform annual curriculum refinements and formal program review processes. We look at patterns and trends in our data over time to understand what is working well and what we will continue to improve.


Thank you for supporting our math program objectives!

Scott, Jon, and Michelle
Head of School, Head of Academic Programs, Math Enrichment Coordinator

  • insights
  • Math

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