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Strategy Assessment-led improvement

Summary

This strategy builds on the principles of Strategy standards-based improvement through a gradual implementation sequence:

Assessment >>Transition units >>Full curriculum

It is based on the power of rich assessment tasks as a tool for stimulating professional and system development. Such tasks, when used with specific rubrics and examples of student work, can communicate vividly to teachers and their students the essentials of the planned reform – in performance, content, process and pedagogy. This approach needs only modest resources in the initial phase. It gradually improves teacher understanding of standards-based mathematics, its value system, and its teaching style demands. It starts from structured discussion of a sequence of rich assessment tasks, their scoring rubrics, and examples of student work at all levels of performance. It moves on to look in more depth at the developments needed in instruction and curriculum. It thus provides a carefully paced constructive learning experience for the system and its teachers, as well as for their students.
  • First introduced are Tool standards-based assessment tools for classroom use annual tests, initially ‘low-stakes’, with associated professional development that includes scoring training and uses of assessment to guide instruction.
  • During the second phase, transitional replacement units from Tool standards-based mathematics curricula are gradually introduced, with professional development on the new challenges they present to teachers. These units are chosen to be accessible while focusing on important gaps in the coverage of the currently-used curriculum materials.
  • Later the program moves on to the selection and adoption of a full standards-based curriculum, with associated professional development. The by-now-familiar assessment has meanwhile become a major part of the accountability system.

The logistic issues of timeline, cost and necessary prior capabilities for the whole multi-year implementation process are supported by a curriculum change planning tool that can be fitted to local circumstances.

The "download extended report" includes a full description of this strategy along with planning essentials, budget issues, benefits, implementation pitfalls and evaluative evidence.

Applicable tools

The following tool types are essential elements in enabling this strategy to succeed. In addition to standards that describe the learning and performance goals, the strategy needs:

Standards-based assessment materials, summative and formative, such as Tool Balanced Assessment in Mathematics and the Tool New Standards Reference Examinationsillustrate the goals and provide instruments for recognizing progress and problems.

Standards-based classroom teaching materials are likewise essential tools. The learning activities must cover the full range of mathematical understanding and performance that the standards imply, typically involving linking topic content to greater depth of knowledge, longer chains of reasoning, non-routine problem solving and the connections it depends on, and to communication of results and reasoning to others. The Tool standards-based mathematics curricula that were developed with NSF-support are among those suitable for this strategy. They also provide support for professional development and communication with parents.

Standards-based professional development materials to support professional development leaders are a third key tool. Most leaders will value and benefit from the materials that are usually available from the curriculum and assessment providers, since these are carefully linked to the classroom activities that the teachers will lead. Strategy Professional development for and through performance assessment provides support from the assessment perspective..

Planning tools that enable systems to make realistic estimates of costs and personnel needs over a rolling five year period – your system will have such tools.

Stories

Challenges addressed