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Strategy Provide professional development for and through performance assessment


This strategy takes assessment as the point of departure for professional development. There is growing evidence that assessment can be a site for teacher learning – about mathematics, about learning, about students’ understanding, about best practices that combine assessment with instruction so that one serves the other and both contribute to student learning.

This strategy has several key features.
  • Centers professional development on high-quality assessment tasks to highlight the critical role balanced assessment plays in supporting enhanced teaching and improved student learning.
  • Gives teachers experience in workshops with the activities and discussions they will facilitate in their classrooms.
  • Provides opportunities for teachers to reflect on and discuss their work on tasks in the workshops and students’ work with the tasks in their own classrooms.

Applicable tools

Tool “Balanced Assessment in Mathematics” Professional Development Series. This tool is a collection of Leader Guides that fully supports 8 or more 3-hour workshop sessions. The Guides are built around rich mathematical tasks, student work, and classroom video recordings. The series is designed around three themes: Understanding Student Understanding; Using Assessment to Support Teaching and Learning; and Scoring What We Value. It builds on a practice of professional development that focuses on teacher learning and shifts the curriculum and discourse of professional development away from simply giving teachers things to do in their classroom toward providing support for more reflective approaches to assessment and instruction.
Tool Assessment-led improvement: the MAC model.MAC, the Silicon Valley Mathematics Assessment Collaborative, grew out of the California Math Renaissance, which focused on reform through good curriculum. There the:
  • workshops went well but there was not much sign of change in classrooms;
  • curriculum replacement units were each too big a bite for teachers to swallow;
  • coaching was so expensive.

In 1996 formative classroom assessments with Balanced Assessment and New Standards tasks became a focus of professional development, working with various districts in Silicon Valley. Each task provides a common experience for teachers to work and discuss, and a common universe of discourse for examining student work from their own and other classrooms.

Design and development

MARS: Mathematics Assessment Resource Service at Michigan State University

Challenges addressed