Updated Placement Test for the New School Year

These are just a few examples of how Happy Numbers incorporates the ideas of small-group instruction into its curriculum. To find out more and try them out, register as a teacher on the website to start a free trial period which is available only this week! 

     Happy Numbers is designed to provide each student with a learning experience that supports his or her strengths and addresses areas for growth. To create the most appropriate individual learning pathway and to support a high motivation level of every student, we pay special attention to determining the student’s initial achievement level in math. 

     For this purpose, we implemented the Happy Numbers Placement Test, powered by The Quantile® Framework for Mathematics, which is designed to assess students’ math readiness in grades K through 5. 

     To make sure that each student using Happy Numbers feels comfortable and has the best experience possible with the platform, we continually track the efficacy of our system at all stages. As a result of our research based on the data gathered during the previous school year, several essential changes have been made to the Placement Test for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.  

     Note that the Placement Test remains mandatory for all K-5 students, who automatically take the Happy Numbers Placement Test upon entering Happy Numbers.

What changes were made, and how do they help to improve the test?

The number of items in the Placement Test

     Today, students of all grades face a lot of different assessments during the school year. It would be fair to say that students often get overtested with different types of diagnostics. Still, a test remains the best, if not the only, option for determining the actual level of knowledge of each student on a learning platform. Theoretically, the longer the test, the more accurate results it may provide. But often students get bored and start clicking through questions indiscriminately.

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     At Happy Numbers, we are aware of both the positive and negative effects of any assessment, and we seek balance between the test’s accuracy and the number of tasks we ask students to complete.

To enable students on Happy Numbers to maintain a high level of attention throughout the Placement Test, and therefore to get the most accurate results, we’ve kept the same number of items for grades K-2. As in the previous school year, the test for these grades will consist of 20 items, which usually takes students between 10 and 20 minutes.

     As the math concepts taught in grades 3-5 become more complex and build upon each other, we’ve included more items in the Placement Test for these grades: the test now consists of 25 items for grade 3 and 30 items for grades 4 and 5. Such changes enable students to get more accurate results and still not take too long to finish. The test will most likely take:

          -  between 10 and 30 minutes for grade 3,
          -  between 20 and 40 minutes for grades 4 and 5. 

The Placement Test items

     Each item included in the Placement Test helps to determine the Zone of Proximal Development for each student. If an item is too easy, then it does not provide enough information for an accurate placement point in the curriculum for most of the students. 

     Similarly, if the item is too hard, then this item demonstrates a low level of skill proficiency for most students and does not help in determining their right placement point.

     To increase the efficacy of the test, we replaced the items with extreme levels of difficulty with items that will provide more information about the student’s math level.

     When replacing the items, special attention was paid to full coverage of the key skills taught in the previous grades.

Placement point adjusted

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     After the Placement Test, a certain learning pathway is automatically assigned to each student. Though choosing the right starting point is extremely important, we are aware that placing a student far below the grade level may be harmful for his or her motivation. Placing a student above the grade level carries a certain risk as well, as the student may struggle with tasks that were not previously discussed in class. 

    To determine exact cases when placing below, far below, or above grade level is necessary, we analyzed students’ accuracy at all placement points of the Happy Numbers curriculum. The adjusted placement points are chosen to provide a high level of accuracy while staying in the Zone of Proximal Development and offering tasks with an adequate level of difficulty. 

Automatic voiceover disabled for grades 4 and 5

     Although most tasks of the Placement Test do not contain a lot of text, a low level of reading proficiency may cause significant inaccuracies in the test results for non-readers and English language learners. To eliminate this influence, we implemented automatic voiceover for the Placement Test in all grades in previous school years. 

     The one risk connected with automatic voiceover is that the delay caused by it may decrease the attention level and motivation of students who don’t have any reading issues. 

     Our analysis shows that disabling automatic voiceover in the Placement Test for grades 4 and 5 increases student involvement without influencing the test results. 

     Note that the voiceover of all items of the Placement Test will remain available on demand for all grades K-5.

How do the changes influence the student experience?

     The updates made to the Placement Test for grades K-2 will not influence the student experience during the test. 

     Students in grades 3-5 who took the Placement Test on Happy Numbers in the 2021-2022 school year will also have a very similar experience with the test this year, though some of them may notice that the test has become longer. Please note that if students do not have the opportunity to complete a test in one sitting, we save progress, and the next time students log in, they will pick up where they left off. 

     Students in grades 4 and 5 may also notice that automatic voiceover is disabled, which in some cases may decrease the time they spend on each item. 

     To sum up, the updates made to the Placement Test in the 2022-2023 school year will not significantly influence the student experience while taking the test. These changes are intended to show better results after the test, by determining the best learning pathway for them and making their interaction with Happy Numbers more comfortable and engaging.

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