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Researchers To Tackle K-12 Math Assessments

Researchers at University of California, Davis are looking to determine the effectiveness of math assessments, with a special emphasis on how well current testing methods serve minority students. The researchers in UC Davis' School of Education have received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to carry out their work.

As part of their efforts, the researchers will explore the role formative assessments can play in helping to boost student achievement in math. Formative assessments, of course, are carried out throughout the term to help teachers gauge the progress of students and adapt or differentiate instruction accordingly based on students' mastery of a given subject at a given point in time. The research effort, dubbed "Formative Assessment in Mathematics: Current Status and Guidelines for Future Developments," will be carried out in four stages, according to information released by the school.

  • The the first stage, researchers will conduct a survey of current teacher practices in math assessments throughout the state of California.
  • For the second phase, the researchers will use data collected in the first phase and try to determine the validity of tests that are used in 120 different schools that have high minority enrollments.
  • In the third phase, researchers will develop a prototype formative assessment designed for broader adoption across the United States.
  • And in the final phase, the prototype will be analyzed, refined, and then standardized.

"We do this study to help teachers utilize the great potentials that formative assessments have in understanding students' needs and in improving curriculum and instructional practices," said Jamal Abedi, UC Davis professor, who, with co-investigator Paul Heckman, received the NSF grant for the study. "We also want to provide teachers with a model of formative assessment that is sound for their future use."

The research project got underway earlier this month.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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