encouraged when they see they have
increased their understanding and skill.
The scale used in Figure 1 is a
0 through 4.0 metric. This is preferable to the 100-point scale because
the latter, used in isolation, is not very
amenable to tracking student progress.
It tells teachers little about the content
measured or the difficulty level of that
But Who Knows What?
To illustrate one drawback of the 100-
point system, assume that a teacher
designs a test worth 100 points that
covers two of the topics reported in
assessments are perhaps
the most powerful
form of assessment
that a teacher can make
available to students.
Figure 1—patterns and data analysis.
Let’s assume that 35 of the 100 points
deal with patterns and 65 of the 100
points address data analysis.
Now consider two students, both of
whom have attained a score of 70. The
© SUSIE FITZHUGH
first student might have acquired all 35
of the 35 points on patterns but only
35 of the 65 points on data analysis.
The student has demonstrated a robust
understanding of patterns but only a
summative score at the end of the grad- bar represents the student’s knowledge partial understanding of data analysis.
ing period. The dark section of each bar gain at the end of the grading period.
represents the student’s status at the
That same student ended the grading
The second student might have received
only 5 of the 35 points on patterns
beginning of the grading period. In the period with a score of 2. 5—a gain of
but all 65 points on data analysis. This
measurement topic “number systems,”
for example, the student started with a
score of 1.0. The lighter section of the
1. 5 points. Covington (1992) has pro-
posed that demonstrating knowledge
gain can be intrinsically motivating to
student has demonstrated an opposite
pattern. The convention of designing
tests that involve more than one topic