by MARK WEST
What's a probe?
A probe is a
scientifically-based check for comprehension (for example, teaching has been scientifically tested and proven to aid student achievement).
As an example, a Think Link probe (not the full-blown Think Link tests we do quarterly) counts as a probe. Another example would be
a Study Island test (however, to make sure it is scientifically based, you need to
(1) show that you taught the lesson [a chapter test would be sufficient proof] and (2) the
Study Island test needs to tie directly to the SPI taught). If you look on page 4 of the
Intervention & RTI Guide, there's a chart like this:
OK, so everyone starts at Tier 1. You then have at least 6 probes.
- The probes can be all DEA/Think Link, or a mix (with Study Island as noted above, or some other scientifically researched approach).
- A probe is given each week.
- If a student does not show progress, a modification (such as modelling, peer tutoring, etc.) to the way instruction takes places needs to be documented (for example, 3 weeks of using DEA probes and 3 weeks of using Study Island as a probe would document a change in instructional strategy).
- After 6 weeks at Tier 1 where the student does not show progress being made, the student advances to Tier 2.
Tier 2 (aka "Essentials"). You now have at least 6 more probes. Again, the probes can all be the same type or a mix and match.
What happens if the student makes progress?
Congratulations, he or she learned (or is in the process of learning) something. Nothing needs to be done more; you probably won't take him (or her) out of essentials until you see steady comprehension of new material.
What happens if the student does not make progress?
If you have six weeks of documentation at Tier 1, and six weeks of documentation at Tier 2 (i.e. 12 probes of some scientifically researched type), then (according to the diagram), "referral to student support team for help in determining next strategic intervention" is appropriate. Documenting the students and the dates of the probes is key to this process.
How To Make A Probe At Discovery Education
- Once you're at the Discovery Education website, at the section entitled Subscriber Login, enter your username and password.
- Once you are logged in, the upper left of the screen has a button highlighted ("My DE"); you'll need to click on the gray-colored "Assessment" button:
Disclaimer: this website is in no way related to the Discovery Education website and the use of its web elements are for demonstration purposes only to help teachers new to the website gain access.
- Once you click the Assessment link, the icon bar turns a vivid red
- Click on the link marked "Progress Zone"; this will take you to the Probe Manager. Use the Create New Probe button to create a curricular probe.
Stuff you need to fill out on the Setting Up A Probe page:
- Probe Name: Enter your name (for tracking purposes) and the skill set name or SPI.
- Subject: change it to your subject.
- Grade: change it to the grade level your teaching.
- Skillset: choose "TN State Reporting Categories 2009"
- Determine Item Usage: check the box that says Include Unused Questions Only.
- note: the probe description is optional, so unless you need it filled out, blank is fine. It's OK to leave every difficulty level checked even if you do not plan to use that difficulty level; some skill sets have only a few questions, so you're better to leave them checked than uncheck them.
- When you have it setup, press the continue button at the bottom.
Stuff you need to fill out on the Select Skills page:
- How many items to display per Sub-concept: while a valid probe can have 5 questions, make it a goal to have 10 total questions (if you're only testing 1 SPI, then 9 [because the form won't let you choose 10]; if 2 SPIs, then 5 each; if 3 SPIs try 3 each). If you need to change it from 3, click the up and down arrows to the right of the number to change it as appropriate. Since I'm testing only 1 SPI, I chose 9.
- Select Skills or Subskills: find your SPI(s) and place a checkmark by it (or them).
- When you have this page configured, press the continue button.
NOTE: I am not showing actual test questions (after all, a student could read this and get a free preview). I made these questions you see here (and no, I don't know why Squidward is called Carlo, but he is). You will never see these questions at Discovery Ed unless you enter them.
Stuff you need to fill out on the Select Items page:
- Place a checkmark by any of the items you wish to use (note that the correct answer has a faint dot by it).
- Note: The difficulty level is placed by each section of questions, starting with easy. Review the questions and get as close as you can to the target goal of 10 total questions. But what if they aren't 10 questions? Come as close as you can, but if there are not 10 questions, you'll have to make do with as many as you can get (in some cases that's 1 question).
- When you have this page configured, press the continue button. (Note the checkmark is by the continue button NOT the select none button).
Now you get to a preview screen. Review what you have done and if you are not satisfied, go back and make any necessary changes; otherwise you may select Save and Exit.
You need to pick your subject area (as noted below) so that it will filter out all the other content. Your new probe will appear at the bottom. You may need to enter a start date and an end date for the use of the probe. You can click the assign button and assign students to your new probe (or you could print them out and grade them by hand - but you'll probably want the computer to score them for you). However, the DEA website will not only grade it but also chart student progress, if you grade it by hand, you will also be responsible for charting student progress by hand, which is time consuming. The computer is your friend.
After you have assigned students to the probe, you're ready to test students.
I'd like to thank Nella Hensley for all her assistance on this particular task.