Action Research on Challenge by Choice


Our department has been implementing challenge by choice for the last two years. Challenge by choice is differentiating based on readiness and allowing students to choose their level of challenge on any given assignment or assessment. It hasn't been easy producing resources and designing different tiered assessment but I think that it is much better to provide materials to challenge every student by providing more difficult assignments for the high fliers and standard level activities for students who are beginning mastery.

One of my action research projects was to collect data on this. Not only do we provide differentiated resources on day-to-day practice, but also on assessments like quizzes, tests and projects. One would think that students would always opt for "easier" assessments (especially on tests) but I've found about 25%-30% always take harder assessments. Some students also take harder assessments only periodically, such as during day to day practice or on quizzes, but take standard level tests. My hypothesis is that the more students can "challenge" themselves, the more they'll grow. Very much like exercising. You can get a sweat going after a 10 minute jog, but you can really improve your long term health by jogging longer and more consistently. The same applies to practice in school. What I did was track how many high level assessments (quizzes and tests) the students had taken between the fall and spring MAP tests and compare that to their RIT growth from fall to spring in mathematics. Here are the results:


Generally, there is a weak positive corellation meaning that (in general) the more advanced assessments an individual chose, the more they grew. There were of some notables from this data set below:

Two students had 14 points of growth, the highest. However, one of them had not advanced assessments an another took 8. 6 students saw a drop in their fall to spring score which is normal and is offset by gains over long term studies. A number of students took "0" advanced assessment and saw notable improvements.


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