ETS Developing Middle School Algebra Assessments that Bring Together Latest Research and Classroom Practice
- Jason Baran
- Jason Baran
Princeton, N.J. (July 19, 2010) —
Educational Testing Service is bridging the gap between educational research and classroom practice with an effort to develop innovative algebra assessments that middle school teachers can use to improve student learning and instruction.
The Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education is funding the four-year, $1.5 million project, "Creating Cross-grade Assessments of the Development of Core Algebraic Constructs." The set of formative assessments will focus on three key algebraic concepts — equality, notion of a variable and multiplicative reasoning — and will be readily adaptable to fit in with teachers' current curricula.
"There is a large body of research that links the consistent and systematic use of formative assessments to improved student learning," says Senior Development Scientist Malcolm Bauer, who is co-leading the effort along with colleagues Caroline Wylie and Karen Harris. "However, within the process of formative assessment, research has begun to suggest that teachers struggle in determining the next instructional steps they should take based upon the assessment evidence they gather from their students.
"Our project focuses on the research and development of assessments to provide rich profiles of groups of students with respect to the models of mathematical development that support teachers' day-to-day instructional decision making," Wylie says. Harris adds that, "It's the intent that the framework itself will deepen teachers' conceptions of students' mathematical knowledge and its development over time, impacting their underlying knowledge of how to teach mathematics."
In addition to the research basis, the research team will work with teachers to develop and later refine the assessments. The research plan calls for the assessments to be field tested with a national sample of 4,000 to 6,000 students in grades 6 through 8. The expectation is for the project to be complete by June 2014.
"Too often, people don't see the practical applications of educational research," says ETS Senior Vice President of Research & Development Ida Lawrence. "Much of what we do is to try to figure out how we can move ideas from theory to practice. This project is just one example of how some of our thinking around assessment can help improve classroom practice and be a driver of student learning."
At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series™assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. www.ets.org