Arithmetika diagnostic testing

If you want to implement Gonski 2.0, read on!

Arithmetika's diagnostic tasks are designed to be used when you first take on a student or a new class: you very quickly get a comprehensive report on where each student stands against all corners of the curriculum. Run the tests again at the end of the course!

What's the first thing you need to do when taking on a new student or a new class?

Ideally you would like to have a very clear picture of each student's ability, competency - not only on the subject you will be teaching but on their ability across the curriculum. At best this would be time-consuming, at worst it would be a nightmore of questionning and marking.

The problem for Arithmetika to solve

Wouldn't we like to know where each student is succeeding, managing or failing, in each of the many curriculum areas?

Take a close look at the following diagram. It shows the connectivity between year levels of elements of basic number skills, NAPLAN skills and the three major strands of the Australian Curriculum, colour-coded for convenience. This is an over-simplified diagram; in fact year levels range from K to 12 and there are around 30 or 40 components of the curriculum for each year level.

The black circles are the reality for a typical Year 9 student. Weak number skills, not too bad at NAPLAN, hopeless at Algebra, under-achieving at spatial stuff but cracking it with Statistics and Probability. The problem is, how to identify each student's position in each of the 30 or 40 study areas?

The Arithmetika solution

Arithmmetika knows all about the connectivity between elements of the curriculum. There are hundreds of Arithmetika question templates associated with each of the Content Descriptions of the maths curriculum and intelligent algorithms analyse student responses to choose questions precisely tailored to the students' needs. Questions too hard? Here's something a little easier!

The diagnostic tests in detail

Arithmetika first asks the students what school year they are in and then asks how they feel they are progressing in the five major study areas. This in turn gives Arithmetika a starting point for some initial maths questions. Then, as the student answers questions or skips them, It uses those connections in the diagram above to generate harder questions or easier ones, as required. So Arithmetika 'listens' to the student. For example

  • Students self-rate themselves. In the first chart below (the columns and line graphs) a Year 8 student thought she was pretty good with Number and Algebra, ok with NAPLAN tasks, below par on Number Skills and Measurement and Geometry - and way out of her depth with Statistics and Probability.
  • She then answered a series of tasks, initially based on her self-rating and then based on her answers to the initial tasks. Questions are selected from every appropriate strand, substrand and content description. The wavy lines show she isn't quite as ahead of the class in N & A as she thinks but is faring a lot better at S & P than she expected.
  • The second chart tells the same story in a different way. You can see she has the Year 7 curriculum pretty well nailed but needs to focus on M & G and particularly on bringing up her S & P to the year 8 standard.

It will take around six task sittings to produce a useful report. Tasks needn't be completed all at once but obviously should be fairly close together to produce a useful 'snapshot'.

Students collect 'points' for each correct answer and marks accumulate from task to task. A target of 100 points is a useful target to give the students.

Analysis and report

Arithmetika analysis the student's responses not just at the Strand level, as here, not even just at the sub-strand level. Arithmetika analyses the student responses at the Content Description level - hundreds of separate important pieces of information for you to focus on as you help the student get to grips with mathematics.

Since Arithmetika knows about the relationships between all the Content Descriptions, very soon a child who says she is coping with year 8 work but clearly isn't will get a message such as this:

Extensive and detailed reports are available to teachers, parents and tutors - as well as to the student, of course. The reports are live, inasmuch as they change as each task is completed. Sample diagnostic report (pdf).