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Making Every Kid Both Math-Competent and Math-Confident

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Using ASSISTments to Promote Positive Learning Mindsets

Imagine you’re a student with a history of struggle in math.  Often, you feel the teacher move on before you’ve grasped the concepts being taught.  You’re worried about making mistakes and looking dumb so you don’t even try to participate in class activities.  You become convinced that you’re not a ‘math person’.   So how can teachers build and maintain a positive and productive environment in which students are comfortable learning and growing given these challenges?  

We believe the key to counteracting these unproductive narratives that feel demotivating to students is providing them a safe and supportive space to practice. Learning cannot happen without mistakes, and until that is normalized and seen as valued in the classroom, students may see growing their math understanding as frustrating.

Every student deserves a chance to be good at math and ASSISTments provides them with that chance.  ASSISTments was designed to provide students with opportunities to engage in practice/formative assessment.  Students get multiple attempts on each question so they can build comfort and fluency with the material addressed in their problems.  In addition, ASSISTments is designed to generate scores, not grades.  Student scores in ASSISTments reflect how challenged a student was, based on the number of attempts they make and whether they used Student Supports).  These data provide a detailed, actionable picture of how proficient each student is with the material, allowing the teacher to design immediate next instructional steps around the highest leverage student needs so that all students feel supported  during the learning process.  

Building a classroom that supports positive Teachers, and how they use data from ASSISTments, are also a crucial part of creating a positive culture of growth in the classroom.  We recommend rewarding students for multiple attempts and not using scores as grades to reinforce that it’s ok to make mistakes while you practice and learn.  In addition, we recommend that teachers regularly show students how key data points are used to provide them with the support that they need to be successful.  And we also recommend that teachers provide students with opportunities to reflect on their own data so that they feel empowered to support their own growth..  

In addition, ASSISTments Assignment Report Data empowers teachers to center addressing student challenges with the material as a key element in the learning process.  ASSISTments data provides teachers with the immediate data they need to concretely explain to students how  lesson supports and modifications are based on specific, high-leverage student performance data.  Teachers can use problem average scores, common wrong answers, and student average scores to determine what specific topics are in need of review or re-teaching and ensure that students get the best in-the-moment support on current the current topic before the teacher moves on to the next topic.  This helps students see how the data generated from their work is used to provide them with a more meaningful and impactful classroom experience.  

In this clip one of our experienced ASSISTments teachers, Alfons Prince, talks about how he promotes a Growth Mindset in his classroom by using problem average scores from his ASSISTments reports to be transparent with students about when instruction might have fallen flat and how he will re-teach to ensure greater understanding.