Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ASSISTments - Feedback, Flexible, Free

I've spoken about this "thing" before but I figured it was time to finally write a post entirely about this "thing."

What is ASSISTments?

These are formative assessments that assist... well, if you want them to (thus, the flexibility) while providing immediate feedback for all of those involved (ideally, student, teacher, parent, administration, etc.).

This is an example of a question that I created (used in my pre assessment of Algebra 2).

I'm currently in Akron doing a training of the program for some local teachers. Today, we introduced the technology and by we, I really mean my friends at Treno Solutions while I provided real world feedback and uses. This got me thinking, why in the world have I not posted about this? There are TONS of possibilities for math and there are still tons of possibilities for other subject areas as well. The thought is that I will do some secondary training during our teacher week in August to give our staff another boot in the right directions.

Why do I love ASSISTments?

1) I get reports that are easy to read/understand so that I can quickly enter them into the grade book.
2) The kids get reports that they can easily understand and look at (they can look at correct/incorrect answers, averages, etc.)
3) I'm given the ability to provide automatic feedback for most commonly missed questions and these are saved into the questions that I create
4) Tons of "skill builders" have been created catering to the common core standards, many of which I consider prerequisites that I can assign to my children to constantly reappear to continue to prove their mastery (for example: fractions still needing practice in the Algebra 2 level)
5) The ability to add as many "hints" as I feel like for a question so that I can constantly be giving them that "look" I like to give them or asking those questions that god forbid make them think.

There are so many uses to this program and I think what I shall do, as a goal, please hold me to it, is post about one use for ASSISTments a week.

Here's your first one.


Something that we all should do, but don't always have the time to do. ASSISTments is a program that I can use to create an "online assessment" that the kids take and will automatically grade for me. On the report sheet, I can see which questions are a common struggle that we need to discuss as a class so that I can assign them as a reappearing skillbuilder (ARRS program). Another ability that I hope to use starting in the fall is the data driven button associated with my pre assessments. The data driven button allows for me to "automatically" assign a problem set, for example the skillbuilders, to any student who gets a problem wrong. So let's say that Sally Jo misses a question about finding a slope, but this is not a common misconception. Sally Jo will automatically be assigned skillbuilders that will help her practice finding slope, and I didn't do a thing!!! Well, except for create this as a setting for students who get the question wrong.

This is a small version of a screenshot of one of the reports that you can view based upon an assignment. As you can see, I have made the names anonymous. In the first row, you can see the headings: Student/Problem then Average then you see numbers (these are the IDs of the questions). Underneath these numbers is the button called Data Driven. This button is what allows for you to create the setting where students who miss the question receive additional practice problems. In the row where the first box is called Common Wrong Answers, you will see several of the most common wrong answers for a particular question, followed by the percentage of people who put that as their answers, and then an option for adding feedback. This feedback will be the message that pops up for students who miss that question (now, this was in test mode, so messages did not appear for incorrect answers).

Initially, ASSISTments can be a lot of work while you are working to create your stock pile but in the end, that data is so useful and you end up doing less work with more results!


  1. Looks pretty cool. Couple quick questions.. Cost? How much time does it take to enter questions? Is this something you've used previously or are you planning for next school year?

    Thank you.

    Scott Hills

    1. Cost - It is a free program, however, you do need to receive training in order for your school/district to be added into the registry. It used to be that anyone at any school or district could register but without the training, they stopped using the program and now ASSISTments has been left with many unused usernames. They are currently in the process of ridding of these usernames.

      Time it takes to enter questions - Initially, it can take about 5 minutes or so for one problem but after a while you pick it up and it becomes second nature. I'm now able to do a 25 problem set in about 20 minutes and this includes hints/images/etc.

      My Use - I did use it this past year. The first term, I was still trying to learn about it on my own a bit but by January, I was figuring out what I could make over the summer and what I could do better next time. Initially, I didn't enter any hints, just questions, and so I am now in the process of going back and entering the hints in for the questions. What's nice is the fact that I don't have to reenter the questions, once they are in there, they are assigned an ID and I can insert the question into any of the assignments. This is another way that the entering questions parts becomes faster!

      Let me know if you have any other questions or would like to know more about assistment training!

    2. My name is Andrew Burnet and work with the ASSISTments team at WPI. First, I would like to thank Jessica for singing our praises. Second, I wanted to make it clear that ASSISTments is free to use AND anyone can use site, whether they attend a training or learn on their own using our online tutorials. Simply follow these steps:

      1. Go to and click on "Get Started"
      2. Apply for an account (we want to make sure that you are a teacher and not a student)
      3. Use the registration code that is emailed to you to make an account
      4. If you need help you can either click on "Need Help?" in the upper right corner of any page on ASSISTments or email us at

      Thanks again Jessica. You Rock!!

  2. OK. I have secretly been trolling yoru blog since I got hired last December. I taught 7th grade math support last year and moved to 6th this year. I love what you have done with the notebooks, and your blog and LOVE the way you think. Anyway, because of this I nominated you for a Leibster Award. It is an award designed to recognize the hard work of new bloggers who do amazing work but might not have the followers that other blogs have. I think you are one of those bloggers who deserve the nod. For more information and how to accept head on over to my blog at
    Leaping Liebster Awards I Accept


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