Assessment in MathScape

Types of Assessment

The assessment opportunities in the units have two purposes:

  1. They provide information on how well students are understanding specific concepts and the mathematical "big ideas" so that the teacher can make daily adjustments to his or her teaching.
  2. They help the teacher monitor students' individual growth over the course of a unit and evaluate their performance.

Teachers may decide to use all of assessment options, some of them, or choose their own assessment methods. Assessment is built into the MathScape curriculum in the following ways:

Pre-assessment: Each unit begins with a pre-assessment activity designed so that teachers can check for important prerequisites and find out what students already know about content in the unit.

Day-to-day assessment: For each lesson, the teacher guide provides a list of "What to look for" questions that help teachers gauge how well students are understanding concepts in the lesson. Homework assignments that go along with each lesson can give teachers additional information about how their students are doing.

Embedded or Performance assessments: Each phase (set of 3-4 lessons) contains an embedded assessment task designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate what they learned in the phase; these assessment activities highlight students' understanding of the major mathematical concepts and processes in the unit. The teacher guide provides scoring rubrics that are correlated to each embedded assessment activity.

Skill Quizzes: For each phase, teachers can assess their students skill development by using the skill quiz.

Portfolios: For a complete picture of students' progress in skill development, conceptual understanding, and internalization of mathematical processes, the teacher guide provides suggestions for having students create portfolios of their work in the unit. In addition, the teacher guide contains a scoring rubric to help assess these portfolios.

Student self-assessment: Because of the importance of making expectations clear to students, the teacher guide contains reproducibles that clearly outline the assessment criteria for the embedded assessment tasks. These explicit criteria can be used to inform students of what is expected of them. In addition, some teachers might want to have their students use the assessment criteria as a framework for assessing their own work.


Homework assignments are provided and are to be used over the 2-3 days of the lesson. To supplement the homework assignments, teachers can use problems from The Math User's Handbook: Hot Words, Hot Topics, Hot Topics and Math Skills Maintenance.

Homework assignments are divided into three sections:

Applying Skills: gives students a chance to practice skills that came up in the lesson;

Extending Concepts: provides problems where students must apply ideas from the lesson to different situations;

Making Connections: connects the concepts to another subject area or context, offers extension problems, or asks students to write about their ideas, misconceptions or solutions.

Note that the homework problems in MathScape often build on each other, so previewing the problems is crucial. In addition, problems take different amounts of time to complete. The entire homework cannot be completed until the lesson has been completed. However, the problems are sequenced so that teachers can assign part of the homework after completing one page of the lesson.

Supporting Student Writing about Math

Being able to communicate mathematical ideas is an important part of being mathematically proficient. Every MathScape lesson includes a writing task. These tasks are designed to support students in reflecting upon their learning and developing their written communication skills. Through these tasks, students will refine their skills in organizing their thinking, analyzing and evaluating the thinking of others and using the language and vocabulary of mathematics.

Writing and assessing and providing feedback on writing is very worthwhile in promoting learning. At the same time, it can be time-consuming. Given the time constraints facing most teachers, it makes sense to select a manageable and representative collection of writing tasks to meet the needs and goals or a particular teaching situation. It is not expected that a teacher would use all of the writing prompts. In fact, it is not recommended. Instead, a collection of writing tasks are provided to meet the diverse needs of teaches, students and schools.

In addition to the writing tasks included with the lessons, some homework assignments include Dr. Math problems that require students to write their reflections. These problems usually address a common mathematical misconception and provide an opportunity to assess a student’s understanding of the content and concepts.