Laurie’s sliding scale quiz

Three classes of sliding-scale quizzes later, I can say that I frightened my first-year kids to death but my upper levels were smirking, especially the level 2’s who got as many points (or more) as the level 4’s who were sitting next to them. The upper-level kids absolutely loved this “challenge” approach. Laurie, you rock!

Here’s a sample of my level 2-AP quiz (points possible are marked):

(1) Она бежит. She is running.
(2) Она вбежала в дом. She ran into the house.
(2) Он выбежал в коридор. He ran out into the corridor.
(3) Выбежав в коридор, он закричал, “Мы горим”. Having run into the corridor, he shouted, “We’re on fire.”
(2) Я сидел на диване. I was sitting on the couch.
(4) Моя жена читала свой любимый “Спорт”. My wife was reading her favorite “Sports.”
(3) Везде был один дым. There was only smoke to be seen.
(4) Нужно срочно звонить в пожарную! We need to urgently call the fire department!

The level 2 kids had only to get 5 points, level 3-10, level 4-5: 15, and AP/IB: 20. Everyone got their top score, and most got more. I had key words that they had to get right in each sentence (not to mention grammar) to get the points.

I will have to dial it down to relax the first-year kids, but I will be using this again for sure!

9 responses to “Laurie’s sliding scale quiz

  1. I’m so glad that it worked for your kids!!!!!!!! I must now admit that I actually like giving and grading these.

    with love,


  2. Well…I have to admit something else…

    I’m lazy…

    So when we graded them as a class, I told the kids that I would first translate the whole sentence, and then they had to circle each chunk I mentioned if they got it right. There were some questions: “sat” was correct for “was sitting,” while “ran into” was correct for second year kids but not for AP kids, who had to get “ran out into.” At the end, they counted up their circles, and that was their score. So I didn’t really grade them myself (but of course will cast an eye over them) — on the other hand, I also see how I can grade them on my own. Kids usually are harsher on themselves than I am, and I know who tends to fudge things.


  3. Is there more info about this sliding scale quiz? I also have mixed classes (don’t we all?) and am excited that this might help me differentiate.


  4. Hi Ben!

    This post has the quiz info in the comment section.

    Maybe we can get more people to chime in about how they deal with differentiation.


  5. I don’t have “mixed-level” classes–as in 1 or 2, but, of course, I have mixed level classes–because all classes are mixed levels in the end. 🙂

    So, tomorrow I am going to give my first cumulative vocab quiz of this nature. It is two sided with no numbers, so you can’t tell which side to start on. I put thirty items on the quiz. I will write the number to shoot for (15, 20, or 25) in the margin according to “where” they are in my class. They will probably talk among themselves after it is over and wonder why “some” people only had to do 15 and others had to do 25. This is where differentiation gets tricky for me. My kids are 11 and 12. They are still pretty concrete–smart/dumb, fast/slow, hate/love, etc. Not too much in between.

    I could use some help to find the right words to explain this to them and, also, how the “extra credit” for doing more works. Thank you for any suggestions.

    The next day, I will give them the sentence translation portion.
    I’ll report on how this all turns out. I find the ideas of choice, challenge, and variable expectations very attractive for them and for me.


  6. Hmmmm…..some options:

    1. Don’t give them any numbers to shoot for. Tell them that this is a quiz to evaluate YOU, which things you have set up well for them, which things need more practice. Ask them to do all of the ones that they can so you can evaluate yourself accurately. Count it as a “homework”….if they stop working you can speak with an individual student and see if he/she can do more or has just stopped.

    Observe how that goes…maybe they will self-differentiate and you will not have to assign numbers next time.

    When I do this I then put all of the 100 papers in one pile. No question on that grade. The question is….how accurate is it to evaluate all of your students based on these scores? Are these “overachievers”? Could anyone else REALLY have managed a 100? If so, then base your grades on this scale. 30 correct = 100 etc.

    If I know in my heart that these are really 100+ papers, then I look at the papers of the students who got nearly every answer correct. So, in your case, students who got between 27-29 correct (or 25-27 wherever the next chunk of scores fall) and pick the number that will set the standard for the test. Perhaps 27 out of 30 will be a 100….and then assign grades based on that scale. (so 18/30 really equals 18/27 which would be a 68….24/27 equals 89 etc.)

    This really works because sometimes I totally under or over estimate the time needed and this takes care of it.

    I simply tell the students that I chose 27 as the amount needed for a 100 after evaluating myself (based on students’ scores) on how well I prepared the test and how well I had provided them with input.

    Because the point-chasers determine the 100 level I rarely, if ever, have a complaint…they get’s fair in every sense.

    2. Tell them that you have to modify the number of sentences that you correct in order to be a better teacher. Therefore, for each quiz there will be a number that they need to do (minimum) on each paper. Different students will have different numbers. They can do more if they’d like and you will give them extra credit. Then really do rotate it. If you really want to challenge your upper level kids, make a slightly different version for them that is more challenging when it is their turn to do fewer sentences.

    3. When we evaluate how much students can do in a certain period of time we are evaluating their processing or reading speed. How important is that for you to know? What does that tell you?

    Let us know how it goes!!!!

    with love,


  7. All of these things that you mention have happened a hundred times in my classroom. The kids, of course, have self differentiated on so many assignments that I have a pretty good idea of who they are and what they can do (this is their third year with me–not everyday, of course). They really fall into three pretty distinct groups.

    My “lows” are all identified with learning differences. They really do need accommodations and will never be at the same level as my “highs” AT THE SAME TIME–which is to say that they absolutely are acquiring Spanish but at a slower rate and with less accuracy.

    Often, on quizzes, I encounter these same things you mentioned: processing time differences, reading speed differences, small motor handwriting speed differences, etc. My “middle” kids, in some ways, are the most interesting because they sometimes do very well OR do very poorly–a bit harder to get a read on them. Some of my “highs” could almost teach the class. They are really fast acquirers and super 4%ers, too.

    I also encounter the phenomenon of my low kids (who have attention problems, processing problems, problems interpreting formats, keeping their eyes on one line, etc.), who are doing the best that they can in class, but not doing well on quizzes for all of the reasons stated above. They will get the tense/mood wrong on an item but understand the “meaning” of the root structure. They will miss the “le”. They will go for the big chunks of meaning and leave out all detail words. They will not use logic and answer two completely different items with the same answer. They have very poor self-editing or correction skills. Very typical. I hate giving them NO credit, so I end up smooshing the points all around and often not handing the quiz back and counting it as a homework.

    I, too, look at these quizzes as good information for me, the teacher.

    Number 2, above, is the one I will really have to wrap my antlers around. I like the way you have worded it. My mom actually suggested the one about making a slightly different version for my “highs”–but I like the twist of changing the numbers around. Good stuff to think about.

    Since I haven’t given it yet, I may be able to make some little changes before tomorrow. Thank you, Laurie.

    What interests me the most is getting a REAL read on them, challenging them, but not over-taxing them. I want to be fair which means really looking at the playing field for bumps and gopher holes. It’s not level for all and it’s my job to figure that out. I do like the idea of them doing as much as they can on a quiz—kind of like working a muscle just to its fatiguing point, but not too far. Some of my low kids are real hustlers and I want them to continue to develop those habits of persistence and perseverance. I also want to give my highs a little bit more run for their money. I really do have students who have a 100% overall average in my class on quizzes. Something wrong with that.

    Ramble, ramble, time to clean my refrigerator. Oh, joy.


    • :o) At the same time, remember that this is not Utopia, it is an American public school….the equality/fairness that you want so badly to provide may not, can not be possible in the real world. We need to find out our own “Key Questions” about evaluation….ones that when we look at the answers…we will find the information that will help us to help our students the most. Every teacher will have his/her own…

      Does this evaluation show me if the student read/heard the vocab/structure?

      Does this evaluation show me if the student can recognize the vocab/structure?

      Does this evaluation show me if the student can comprehend the vocab / structure as it is used in this instance?

      Does this evaluation show me if the student can produce this vocab/structure appropriately, recognizably and comprehensibly in speech/conversation?

      Does this evaluation show me if the student can produce this vocab/structure appropriately, recognizably and comprehensibly in writing?

      Does this evaluation show me how the student responds to/uses the TL in a stress-reduced or stress-filled situation?

      Does this evaluation show me how the student responds in group situations or in one-to-one interaction?

      Does this evaluation show me how the student responds to TL that is below, at or above his/her comprehension level ?

      Does this evaluation show me how this student “performs” compared to other students or to his/her own abilities at this time?

      Does this evaluation SHOW ME WHAT I NEED TO KNOW?

      We have very little control over the things that affect evaluation. We have so little time to divide up amongst all of the things that we want to do. I am so grateful for this community that helps us to work it all out…

      with love,


  8. Thanks, Laurie. Reality check time. Trying to be all things to all people. Teacher trap. My favorite.

    Having the list of questions is very helpful. (I’ll try to come up with some of my own, but I think you’ve pretty much covered it.) The first five align with our report card. The last four are ones I want to dig my teeth into a bit more.

    I appreciate this opportunity to articulate my difficulties with assessment and evaluation and to have this dialogue about some possible solutions. My community of “one” at school is a bit small. I realize that my thoughts have veered from how to do a differentiated quiz to a philosophical discussion of evaluation. Oops.


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