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Assessing proficiency strands is easy with iMaths rubrics

iMaths is a whole-school program that assesses the proficiency strands of the Australian Maths Curriculum.

It’s the iMaths Investigations that build and develop a student’s understanding of maths concepts, improve their mathematical fluency and problem solving skills and provide real-life contexts in which they can develop higher-order reasoning.

And it’s the Investigation rubrics that help you to assess these strands. Find out how you can use these rubrics smarter, faster and more easily than ever before.

Why use a rubric?

For teachers: A rubric clarifies exactly what is being assessed and helps you define what is expected in each of the A–E standards. It documents the decisions you make when evaluating your student’s work and assists you in being objective and consistent.

For students: A rubric clearly defines the criteria on which a student’s work will be assessed. This helps your students become better judges of their own work, improves their performance and increases overall learning.

For parents: A rubric is a helpful tool for parents. It explains teacher expectations, gives a detailed description of tasks and provides a clear picture of their child’s performance.

How to use a rubric

Rubric Thumbnail

See example rubric

  1. At the start of the Investigation, print a copy of the Investigation rubric* for each student.

  2. Project the Discuss the Rubric slideshow* to the class to help explain the role of the rubric in the Investigation, including:

  • how the rows in the rubric align with the Investigation steps
  • the weighting of the different rows.

  1. Ensure students understand the criteria in the Ability to… column of their rubrics. Have them match each criterion to the relevant step of the Investigation by completing the Step column.
  2. During the Investigation, mark or highlight the relevant descriptor (or parts of the descriptor) that best indicate each student’s performance.

*These resources are available at iMaths Online.

How to tally results

The criteria in the Ability to… column of each rubric are not equally important. In particular, the criteria described in the Reasoning section are significantly more difficult and involve reflecting on learning, making generalisations and justifying decisions. As such, they should be given greater weighting when deciding your student’s overall result.

You will get a more valid assessment of a student’s true performance if the tasks in the Reasoning section are completed individually.

Ask students the Communicating and reflecting questions to help you assess the Reasoning section. You can find these questions in the Teacher Book or the Investigation Teaching Plans at iMaths Online.

How to distinguish between achievement levels

Distinguishing between grades can be a complex process – especially if you have provided prompting or support to the student, which could have influenced the quality of their work.

Prompting could involve simply clarifying a question or re-explaining a maths term to a student whereas support could involve drawing a diagram for a student who struggles with hand-eye coordination.

In some cases a completely scaffolded form of assistance is required as every student is different with different needs. As their teacher, you are best placed to interpret the prompting and support levels in a rubric and assign a grade accordingly.

To help you distinguish between two grades after providing prompting or support, consider these questions:

  • Did authentic, long-lasting learning take place?
  • If the task were repeated, could the student achieve the same standard without help?

If the answer is yes, then awarding the higher grade is valid. If not, then it is likely that the lower grade is more appropriate.

As a teacher, you possess all the professional skills to make these decisions, and only you know the myriad of factors that affect the work of each student. Use your professional judgement together with the rubric to justify your decision. Do not be a slave to the definition of prompting, particularly where reasoning is concerned. For example, if students are new to explaining and justifying their work, then even those at the top of the class will need prompting to achieve an A.

How have iMaths rubrics made assessing proficiency strands easier for you? Comment below or post to our Facebook and Twitter pages with any hints or tips you have to share with other iMaths teachers.