Systemic Formative Assessment to Promote Mathematics Learning in Urban Elementary Schools

This project builds on the study of the Ongoing Assessment Project's (OGAP) math assessment intervention on elementary teachers and students and combines the intervention with research-based understandings of systemic reform. This project will produce concrete tools, routines, and practices that can be applied to strengthen programs' implementation by ensuring the strategic support of school and district leaders.

Full Description: 

Districts have long struggled to implement instructional programming in ways that meaningfully and sustainably impact teaching and learning. Systemic education reform is based on the hypothesis that prevailing patterns of incoherence and misalignment in an educational system can send mixed messages to local implementers as they try to respond to various cues and incentives in the environment. Systemic reform seeks to bring alignment to education systems in multiple ways, including consistency across instructional philosophies, alignment across grade levels, and vertical coherence from district to schools to classrooms. This project builds on the Consortium for Policy Research in Education's (CPRE) ongoing, NSF-funded experimental study of the impacts of the Ongoing Assessment Project's (OGAP) math assessment intervention on elementary teachers and students in Philadelphia-area schools. The project will combine the OGAP math intervention with research-based understandings of systemic reform. OGAP is based upon established theory and research demonstrating the impact of teachers' use of ongoing short- and medium-cycle formative assessment on student learning. It combines these understandings with recent research on learning trajectories within mathematics content domains. By bringing to bear the strengths of all three of these areas of research - formative assessment, learning trajectories, and systemic reform - the project promises a significant contribution to the knowledge base about the application of math learning research to classroom instruction on a large scale. This project will produce concrete tools, routines, and practices that can be applied to strengthen programs' implementation by ensuring the strategic support of school and district leaders. This project is funded by the Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) and EHR Core Research (ECR) Programs. The DRK-12 program supports research and development on STEM education innovations and approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment. The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field.

CPRE and the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) will establish a research-practice partnership focused on developing, implementing, refining, and testing a systemic support model to strengthen implementation of the OGAP math intervention in elementary schools. CPRE's current experimental study of OGAP's impacts reveals, preliminarily, statistically significant positive effects on teacher knowledge and student learning. As a result, SDP has decided to expand OGAP into an additional 60 schools in 2016-17. However, the current OGAP study has also revealed weak implementation stemming from a lack of consistent leadership support for the intervention. The project will address this implementation challenge by developing, refining, supporting, and documenting a systemic support component that will accompany OGAP's classroom-level implementation. The systemic supports will be developed by a research-practice partnership between CPRE; SDP; OGAP; the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (PennGSE); and the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC). The team will use principles of design-based implementation research to iteratively refine and improve the systemic support model. Along with the design and development of the systemic support model, the project will conduct a mixed-methods study of its impacts and roll-out. A three-armed quasi-experimental study will examine the differential impacts of OGAP, with and without systemic supports, and business-as-usual math programming on teacher and student outcomes. A mixed-methods study will examine teacher and administrator experiences in both treatment groups, and will provide feedback to inform the iterative development of the systemic support model.

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