There is a push in education towards data-driven decision making. Although I completely understood the concept and it's merits, my problem was that I never had any data to work with. Collecting it was a time consuming and cumbersome process, and by the time that process was done, it was too late to have it really inform my instruction.
The core subject areas are swimming in data from CAP, PARCC, OAA, PSAT, MAP, OGT, or the hundreds of other standardized assessments these kids participate in. The lowly foreign language teacher has only their own observations, which although very valuable and important, won't satisfy the requirements of our state-mandated teacher evaluation program.
Then, I found ZipGrade. At first glance, the app looks just like a modern day Scantron machine. You can print out bubble forms from their website that look shockingly similar. Once the students have bubbled in answers and you have submitted a key - that is when the fun begins. You can grade kids tests instantly by taking a picture of it with your iPad or iPhone. At first I worried about it not being accurate, but I have personally tested it's reliability and I can assure you - it is VERY accurate. The wonderful part about this app is that as it grades the tests, it automatically and instantly does an item analysis. You can see how many students answered A, B, C, D, or E. Even more useful, you can see what percentage of your students got each question correct.
This has changed the data available to me from "I think most of my students understand subject pronouns" to "90% of my students are able to substitute subject pronouns for the 1st and 3rd person, but only 60% are able to correctly use subject pronouns in the 2nd person". Since I knew this information immediately, I was able to spend the second week of the lesson focusing strictly on tú vs usted and vosotros vs ustedes and not wasting time on things that I knew the kids "got". I have no doubt that this app, and the $1.99 I spent on it, have made me a more effective teacher.
Now, I don't use this all the time as you really can't use it to assess speaking or writing, but it is a good mid-unit assessment tool to plan where you are going next. Not having to take home that stack of papers is nice too...
Here is the link to the ZipGrade website, or you can download the app in the App Store:
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