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  • Writer's pictureKristy Johnson

Analyzing Student Work with Purpose

Updated: Jun 21, 2022



As a teacher, do you analyze student work with purpose? I mean, what’s the point of all of this work that we give students if we as educators aren’t using it to our students' advantage? We should always be analyzing student work with a purpose so that we can differentiate instruction throughout the year. I will challenge you below to think about analyzing YOUR teaching as well. How can you be better to make your students better? My coworkers and I have a great system in place for analyzing student work with a purpose that I want to share with you today. I hope that it will help you also!


Want to learn more about analyzing student work with purpose and so much more? Check out this FREE math conference opportunity for upper elementary math teachers!


Here is how to analyze student work with purpose:

Step 1-Assign

Work with your coworkers to analyze student work together. With your grade level team, decide on or create a common formative assessment for everyone to assign their class. They must be exactly the same in order to get the most out of this session. We like to assign through Google to make it self grading. I have created some printable math formative assessments for you to grab for free HERE! These are perfect for upper elementary students! It also includes a data collection sheet for your planning and organization.


Step 2-Determine Expectations/Criteria

Then, determine as a group what the expectations are of the students. What answers should they get? What should they be able to explain? What misconceptions could there be? My FREEBIE formative assessments do not have an answer key so you can create your specific expectations as a team. Make sure that you all have the same expectations for your classes. Keep it simple here when starting to analyze student work until you get into more of a comfort level with it.


Step 3-Samples

Next we discuss how many samples each educator should bring back to the group. Typically, we usually bring about 20 samples each. We like to have a random mixture from each class. Although we are currently hybrid, we actually print off the assessments and physically bring them with us. This makes it easier to write on them and pass around.

Step 4-Assign the Activity

Once you have determined expectations and how many samples you will bring, then you are ready to have your students actually complete the assignment. Make sure you give them enough time to complete it before you meet back with your team to analyze their work.


Step 5-Discuss

Next, we come back together to discuss what the students and teacher did. This is when we bring our samples and our cute gel pens to write on them. We sort the papers into at least 3 groups (you could do more groups depending on your grading scale). In addition, each teammate discusses how he/she taught the content of the assignment (sometimes this definitely matters!)


We sort them into these categories:

-below target

-on target

-above target


Here are some things that we discuss:

-What misconceptions were there across the board?

-What did students lack?

-What did they fully understand?


Step 6-Where to go from here?

Now, many people stop at the above step. They tend to only focus on how successful the students were. This is great, however, there is so much more to it. BRANCH out. Focus on the teaching part of it now. Where do you go from here? As a team we like to ask ourselves, how can we as a team do a better job teaching the content? Are there any resources that we can share or ask our teammates for? Are there any takeaways that can help us grow in the content? How will we extend this thinking or remediate if students need it? In addition, for those students that were very successful with the assessment, how will we challenge them next time so that they don’t get bored with the content?


Analyzing student work is really important for educators to do. It shows student growth, allows flexibility in how to teach the content and gives ideas for re-teaching and remediation. Hopefully, your team is already doing this but if not, I hope that you will start analyzing student work with a purpose! You can purchase my full Analyzing Student Work Packet in my store that walks your team through all the steps above, as well as includes formative assessments to use with your students.


Are you interested in learning more about analyzing student work with purpose? Check out this FREE math conference opportunity for upper elementary math teachers! I will be presenting all about the analyzing your students work and making it meaningful for everyone involved!


I would love to know, how do you analyze student work?


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