Start your Year with a Number Sense Only Math Diagnostic

Are you looking for a math diagnostic to start off your school year? It is our job to get to know our students in September. But as back to school is already a stressful time, do we really need to know everything they know all at once? That would be too overwhelming and unnecessary. This is why I start my year with a number sense only math diagnostic.

Why I only include number sense expectations on my beginning of the year math diagnostics.

Geesh, that is a long image title!

Let’s talk about math diagnostics

First of all, we all know that starting our year with a math diagnostic is a common and extremely useful September activity.

A beginning of the year assessment is a snapshot of your students’ understanding at that moment in time. Since numbers are the foundation for every other math we do, a student’s understanding of how numbers work together, will help them to gain a deeper understanding of all other math strands.

This is why I create and use number sense only math diagnostics 

Adding other strands, such as geometry and measurement, will make the assessment unnecessarily long, making it more stressful for students.

Not only is an assessment with all of the strands way too long, it really only measures what your students know about that strand at that beginning of the year.

Focusing on number sense concepts at the beginning of the year will build on math skills that will transfer to all other math areas. This allows for a better understanding of other concepts, before even focusing on them.

Why having a much too long beginning of the year math diagnostic can cause students too much stress.

For example,

Take measurement for instance, as you conduct lessons and complete activities on number sense, a student’s ability to complete a measurement pre-assessment may actually be stronger than it would have been at the beginning of the year. It is not that you have taught measuring concepts per say, but students may now have a better grasp on numbers, which will assist understanding of this strand (powers of 10, decimals, etc.).

Once I know which number sense concepts my students need, the real student centered planning can begin. This is all we really need. The other strands can come later, as we build on our students’ number sense abilities.

Of course, I still want to know what my kiddos know at the beginning of a non-number sense unit. This is where unit pre-assessments come in. The beginning of the year diagnostic doesn’t replace that. A pre-assessment before each unit, not only helps you to plan for a particular unit, but also helps you to see how students’ understanding has changed throughout the year, acting as multiple midway check-ins

If you are interested in seeing what I use in my own Grade 6 classroom, check out this beginning of the year number sense math diagnostic. Once I am ready to move into the curriculum, I can test slowly with these full year pre and post assessments that focus on specific concepts broken up for a less overwhelming assessment practice. 

Math pre and post assessments for the entire school year.

Thanks for reading my passionate ramblings. 🙂

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