Assessing in a New Year: Part 2

As we are rounding up the first round of assessments, I wanted to comment on how things are going. My last post was about the new assessments we are using this year. We are seeing incredible results with our students. These assessments are falling on the third lesson in the cycle. The first lesson introduced the assessment material to the students and allowed us to give them some initial feedback before their practice. The second lesson was a continual review of the assessment material with us giving students more feedback on their progress. We use the same rubrics in our lessons as we do our assessments. For our advanced students, we were also looking at All-State or Honor Band audition material. Most importantly, our students who struggled in lessons last year are performing extremely well on these assessments. The next lesson cycle will have four full lessons before an assessment. Most students will be assigned other material from their lesson books in addition to the melodic etude they will perform at the end of the next six-week grading period.

All of the assessments are based off our Wind and Percussion Rubrics:

When scoring using our rubrics: 4 is weighted at 100%, 3 is weighted at 93%, 2 is weighted at 83%, and 1 is weighted at 73%. If the excerpts we are assessing do not include expression, we exclude this category from calculation so as not to artificially inflate the student's score. These weights provide us with the following curve:

Points Full Rubric Partial Rubric
20 100%
19 98.6%
18 97.2%
17 95.8%
16 94.4% 100%
15 93% 98.25%
14 91% 96.5%
13 89% 94.75%
12 87% 93%
11 85% 90.5%
10 83% 88%
9 81% 85.5%
8 79% 83%
7 77% 80.5%
6 75% 78%
5 73% 75.5%
4 73%

We are using Google Forms and Google Sheets to collect data from our lessons and our assessments. Here is a sample of one of the Assessment Forms:


The Standards portion of the form refers to the Power Standards we are assessing in addition to the melodic or technical exercise the students are performing:

  1. Is this time signature simple or compound?
  2. What notes are in the key signature?
  3. Identify the tonal center for your instrument and in concert pitch.
  4. Play the scale of the tonal center.
  5. Say the excerpt using takadimi syllables.
  6. Play the excerpt.

The responses to these forms collect into a Google Sheet. With the recent updates to Google Sheets, we can add columns to the sheet without destroying the form. I've added two columns: one that sums the Rubric Responses, and one that calculates the curve based on the sum and the responses. I did this by creating a 2nd tab within the Google Sheet that includes the curves above in a slightly different format. The cell for calculating the curve contains the following formula:


The IF statement checks to see if Expression (I2) was assessed in the Rubric. If it was not assessed (="N/A"), Excel vertically searches (VLOOKUP) the sum (L2) against the Partial Rubric (Curve!$A$2:$C$18,2). If it was assessed, Excel vertically searches the sum against the Full Rubric (3). The $ signs placed in the formula ensure that as you copy and paste the formula, these cells do not increase. The other cells (I2 and L2) will increase throughout the sheet, becoming I3 and L3, I4 and L4, etc.

When sorted, this provides us a wealth of information for the 517 students we see this year in 6-12th grade. It also supplements the data we collect from the lessons using a similar Google Form. In my next post, I'll detail how we are using this data formatively and summatively in the new version of Infinite Campus.

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Burton Hable

Burton Hable is an instrumental music educator from Central Iowa. In 2013 he helped open Centennial High School in Ankeny, the first time in forty years that a school district in Iowa expanded to two high schools. He served there through 2018 as Assistant Director of Bands: conducting the 10th Grade Symphonic Band, directing the varsity Jazz Collective, co-directing the Centennial Marching and Pep Bands, teaching music theory, and providing individual and small group lessons to brass students in grades 6-12 at Prairie Ridge Middle School, Northview Middle School, and Centennial High School. During his tenure in Ankeny, enrollment in band grew from 450 to nearly 700, the jazz program expanded from four to seven ensembles, and ensembles under his direction were invited to perform at Iowa State University, Harper College, and the Veterans Day Parade in New York City.