How I Use It
The ASSISTments platform has become a very valuable tool for the North Arlington Public Schools. We utilize it in many facets and all have been productive. We began using the platform for our mathematics summer enrichment, prior to ASSISTments we handed the youngsters a packet in June, collected it in September and it was not very effective. Now, based on content youngsters should be proficient in from previous grades and important for the following year, we have a selected group of “Skill Builders” for math and science for students to complete during the summer. You can see this on our Math Science WIKI at: http://narlmathsci.wikispaces.com/.
The next story I will share is how we used ASSISTments to further prepare our 11th grade students for the New Jersey HSPA (High School Proficiency Assessment) in Mathematics that was used prior to 2015. The last two years of HSPA every 11th grade student was assigned a wide range of mathematics ASSISTments, about 140 skill builders as well as several practice test segments that we built ourselves. We began in November and ending in early March when the assessment was given. All students were required to master at least 120 for an assignment grade of A grade in their math class for the 3rd marking period (~10% of the MP grade), additional ones beyond 120 would count towards extra credit if mastered. Over 85% of the students earned an A or above. We also incorporated peer tutoring, using National Honor Society member to work with the struggling students on their ASSISTments after school.
So how did this work out for us? In ten years of testing, the highest percentage of Proficient and Advanced Proficient students in mathematics was 75%, Our results the past two year reached 87% and 89%. We also had the highest number of Advanced Proficient students in our history. Needless to say that after the first year we initiated a similar plan for grades 4 – 8 students. As we move forward to PARCC in 2015 and beyond I believe that ASSISTments will continue to be a valuable tool to prepare students for future testing.
Additionally we have used the platform for NJ Biology Competency test preparation, benchmark testing (on computer to prepare for online assessments), and a series of ongoing mastery SGO assignments based on prerequisite content. We have used the content available as well as created our own content when needed. In closing ASSISTments is one of the most usable, versatile, and productive free resource available and I encourage you to try it.
One of the strongest assets of the ASSISTments platform in my opinion are the "Skill Builders" and the scaffolding incorporated into them. To demonstrate mastery of a skill builder a student must complete three items correctly, consecutively, without using any hints. Students are encouraged to use hints in beginning to teach themselves until they are able to master the skill without using hints. "Skill Builders" are identified by CCSS and are available from grade 3 through HS. This was exactly what I was looking for on our summer assignments and the other applications evolved from that success.
The Builder is another valuable tool if you are interested in creating your own content. Several new features like ARRS, parent notification, and placement test shows a concerted effort on their part to continue to upgrade the resource. The variety of reports make analysis of data simple and constructive.
ASSISTments is not perfect, but few thing are, it is certainly a very, very valuable educational tool.