Standards

Improving Students' Mathematical Proficiency through Formative Assessment: Responding to an Urgent Need in the Common Core Era

The overarching goal of this RAPID project is to contribute to the national goal of improving students' mathematical proficiency by providing information and guidance to mathematics education practitioners and scholars to support a sharpened focus on formative assessment. The project produces, analyzes, and makes available to the field timely information regarding the views and practices of mathematics teacher educators and professional development specialists regarding formative assessment early in the enactment of ambitious standards in mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1439366
Funding Period: 
Sun, 06/15/2014 to Sun, 05/31/2015
Full Description: 

The products of this project will be useful to national organizations, their state and local affiliates, and school districts as they plan and offer mathematics professional development to support the implementation of high quality mathematics instruction to meet the urgent national need for smart and effective approaches to support ambitious college and career-ready standards in mathematics. Directing mathematics instruction toward ambitious learning goals is intended to address the critically important national priority of improving students' mathematics achievement. It is widely recognized that successful attainment of the content and practices contained in any ambitious set of learning goals, requires well-designed, smartly delivered, professional development for the nation's mathematics teachers. The information generated from this project is critical to inform nationwide mathematics professional development to support the implementation of ambitious mathematics learning goals. For our nation's teachers and students to attain ambitious learning goals, it is imperative that formative assessment becomes a more prominent feature of mathematics instruction as there is an evidence base that suggests formative assessment positively impacts student learning.

The overarching goal of this RAPID project is to contribute to the national goal of improving students' mathematical proficiency by providing much-needed information and guidance to mathematics education practitioners and scholars to support a sharpened focus on formative assessment. The project produces, analyzes, and makes available to the field timely information regarding the views and practices of mathematics teacher educators and professional development specialists regarding formative assessment early in the enactment of ambitious standards in mathematics. Moreover, it offers a potentially transformative view of formative assessment as integrated with other promising mathematics instructional frameworks, approaches and practices that have already established a strong presence in the mathematics education community and have influenced the instructional practice of many teacher educators and teachers. The project will result in: (a) an in-depth analysis of the responses of mathematics teacher educators and professional development specialists to a recent survey that probed their practices and beliefs related to formative assessment and its intertwined relationships with promising mathematics instructional frameworks, approaches and practices; (b) collaborative work among mathematics teacher educators and professional development specialists to elaborate effective ways to focus on formative assessment in the preparation and continuing education of teachers of mathematics; and (c) a set of design features and principles, along with associated activities, intended to undergird creating and sustaining an approach to mathematics teacher professional development that both attends to critically important instructional practices of formative assessment and links to other promising mathematics instructional frameworks, approaches and practices.

Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards at the State Level: A Conference to Determine the Role of the Earth and Space Sciences Community

This conference is to develop a strategy for increasing the import of teaching Earth and Space Sciences in schools to make students ready for college and careers. The summit brings together key members of the Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) community to identify and devise ways in which they can work together to help states and school districts implement college and career readiness standards.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1440579
Funding Period: 
Tue, 07/01/2014 to Thu, 12/31/2015
Full Description: 

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) propose to host a fall 2014 summit on implementation of standards for college and career readiness at the state level. The summit brings together key members of the Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) community to identify and devise ways in which they can work together to help states and school districts implement college and career readiness standards. A needs assessment is conducted before the summit to determine the top concerns of the stakeholders and a collaborative website is created. At the conference, a collection of standards-congruent ESS educational resources are identified and assembled. The conference report describes concrete guidelines for disseminating these resources to translate the vision and structure of the standards into teaching and learning practice.

A 2.5 day working meeting for 30 experts and stakeholders consists of short plenaries to establish the context for each set of working group sessions. The proposed plenary speakers are Steven Pruitt from Achieve, Michael Wysession, one of the lead writers of the ESS portion of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and panels of science supervisors from states that have and have not adopted the standards. In the working group sessions, conferees identify products and services that the geoscience and geoscience education community can develop to help states implement the ESS portion of the standards. A key component of the Summit is action items to move the agenda of the conference forward in the states, and commitment of the participants to follow through on the various findings of the conference is emphasized. As part of the selection process individuals will be asked for a commitment from the organizations they represent to participate in follow-up actions from the Summit. The conference and its impacts will be measured by an external evaluator

This conference is to develop a strategy for increasing the import of teaching Earth and Space Sciences in schools to make students ready for college and careers.

GRIDS: Graphing Research on Inquiry with Data in Science

The Graphing Research on Inquiry with Data in Science (GRIDS) project will investigate strategies to improve middle school students' science learning by focusing on student ability to interpret and use graphs. GRIDS will undertake a comprehensive program to address the need for improved graph comprehension. The project will create, study, and disseminate technology-based assessments, technologies that aid graph interpretation, instructional designs, professional development, and learning materials.

Award Number: 
1418423
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2014 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

The Graphing Research on Inquiry with Data in Science (GRIDS) project is a four-year full design and development proposal, addressing the learning strand, submitted to the DR K-12 program at the NSF. GRIDS will investigate strategies to improve middle school students' science learning by focusing on student ability to interpret and use graphs. In middle school math, students typically graph only linear functions and rarely encounter features used in science, such as units, scientific notation, non-integer values, noise, cycles, and exponentials. Science teachers rarely teach about the graph features needed in science, so students are left to learn science without recourse to what is inarguably a key tool in learning and doing science. GRIDS will undertake a comprehensive program to address the need for improved graph comprehension. The project will create, study, and disseminate technology-based assessments, technologies that aid graph interpretation, instructional designs, professional development, and learning materials.

GRIDS will start by developing the GRIDS Graphing Inventory (GGI), an online, research-based measure of graphing skills that are relevant to middle school science. The project will address gaps revealed by the GGI by designing instructional activities that feature powerful digital technologies including automated guidance based on analysis of student generated graphs and student writing about graphs. These materials will be tested in classroom comparison studies using the GGI to assess both annual and longitudinal progress. Approximately 30 teachers selected from 10 public middle schools will participate in the project, along with approximately 4,000 students in their classrooms. A series of design studies will be conducted to create and test ten units of study and associated assessments, and a minimum of 30 comparison studies will be conducted to optimize instructional strategies. The comparison studies will include a minimum of 5 experiments per term, each with 6 teachers and their 600-800 students. The project will develop supports for teachers to guide students to use graphs and science knowledge to deepen understanding, and to develop agency and identity as science learners.

Developing and Testing the Internship-inator, a Virtual Internship in STEM Authorware System

The Internship-inator is an authorware system for developing and testing virtual internships in multiple STEM disciplines. In a virtual internship, students are presented with a complex, real-world STEM problem for which there is no optimal solution. Students work in project teams to read and analyze research reports, design and perform experiments using virtual tools, respond to the requirements of stakeholders and clients, write reports and present and justify their proposed solutions. 

Award Number: 
1418288
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2014 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

Ensuring that students have the opportunities to experience STEM as it is conducted by scientists, mathematicians and engineers is a complex task within the current school context. This project will expand access for middle and high school students to virtual internships, by enabling STEM content developers to design and customize virtual internships. The Internship-inator is an authorware system for developing and testing virtual internships in multiple STEM disciplines. In a virtual internship, students are presented with a complex, real-world STEM problem for which there is no optimal solution. Students work in project teams to read and analyze research reports, design and perform experiments using virtual tools, respond to the requirements of stakeholders and clients, write reports and present and justify their proposed solutions. The researchers in this project will work with a core development network to develop and refine the authorware, constructing up to a hundred new virtual internships and a user group of more than 70 STEM content developers. The researchers will iteratively analyze the performance of the authorware, focusing on optimizing the utility and the feasibility of the system to support virtual internship development. They will also examine the ways in which the virtual internships are implemented in the classroom to determine the quality of the STEM internship design and influence on student learning.

The Intership-inator builds on over ten years of NSF support for the development of Syntern, a platform for deploying virtual internships that has been used in middle schools, high schools, informal science programs, and undergraduate education. In the current project, the researchers will recruit two waves of STEM content developers to expand their current core development network. A design research perspective will be used to examine the ways in which the developers interact with the components of the authorware and to document the influence of the virtual internships on student learning. The researchers will use a quantitative ethnographic approach to integrate qualitative data from surveys and interviews with the developers with their quantitative interactions with the authorware and with student use and products from pilot and field tests of the virtual internships. Data-mining and learning analytics will be used in combination with hierarchical linear modeling, regression techniques and propensity score matching to structure the quasi-experimental research design. The authorware and the multiple virtual internships will provide researchers, developers, and teachers a rich learning environment in which to explore and support students' learning of important college and career readiness content and disciplinary practices. The findings of the use of the authorware will inform STEM education about the important design characteristics for authorware that supports the work of STEM content and curriculum developers.

Building High School Students’ Understanding of Evolution through Collection and Analysis of Data, Evidence-based Arguments, and an Understanding of Heredity

This project will address widespread misunderstandings related to evolution by developing and testing a new high school curriculum unit and assessment measures focusing on biological evolution.  The new curriculum will integrate the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core Mathematics standards on reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, and an English Language Arts standard for writing arguments focused on discipline-specific content. 

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1418136
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2014 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

Understanding evolution is fundamental to understanding contemporary biology, but many students do not understand the core ideas of evolutionary theory. Students misinterpret phylogenetic trees, they misunderstand fundamental concepts of common ancestry, and they have a poor grasp of evolutionary time. This project will address widespread misunderstandings related to evolution by developing and testing a new high school curriculum unit and assessment measures focusing on biological evolution. The University of Utah Genetic Science Learning Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science are collaborating to develop a curriculum unit that models integration of the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards: disciplinary core ideas, science practices, and crosscutting concepts. The new curriculum will also integrate Common Core Mathematics standards on reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, and an English Language Arts standard for writing arguments focused on discipline-specific content. This project builds on a previously funded NSF project that developed and tested six prototype lessons on natural selection. In classroom enactments the lessons showed preliminary promise for significantly increasing student understanding of natural selection and decreasing their misconceptions about natural selection and statistics.

This research and development project is based on the hypothesis that students will better understand the disciplinary core ideas about biological evolution when curriculum materials and instruction have certain identified features and when professional development experiences prepare teachers to use those materials and instructional practices. The research questions and research plan are designed to test this hypothesis using a randomized controlled trial design that allows for iterative rounds of refinement. The study will engage 20 teachers of grades 9-10 biology from across the U.S. who teach a diversity of students. To conduct the research, the project will develop measures of student understanding and a measure of teacher content knowledge. A measure of evidence-based evolution argumentation will also be developed for use with teachers and students.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Evolution: DNA and the Unity of Life

Presenter(s): Louisa Stark, Dina Drits-Esser, Sheila Homburger, & Molly Malone


Centers for Learning and Teaching: Research to Identify Changes in Mathematics Education Doctoral Preparation and the Production of New Doctorates

This project will research the programmatic changes that resulted from the NSF investment in Centers for Learning and Teaching of Mathematics (CLT) at the 31 participating institutions. It will provide information on the core elements of doctoral preparation in mathematics education at the institutions and ways in which participation in the CLTs has changed their programs.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1434442
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/01/2014 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

The quality of the mathematical education provided to teachers and ultimately to their students depends on the quality of teacher educators at the colleges and universities. For several decades, there has been a shortage of well-prepared mathematics teacher educators. Doctoral programs in mathematics education are the primary ways that these teacher educators learn the content and methods that they need to prepare teachers, but the quality of these programs varies and the number of qualified graduates has been insufficient to meet the demand.

This project will research the programmatic changes that resulted from the NSF investment in Centers for Learning and Teaching of Mathematics (CLT) at the 31 participating institutions. It will provide information on the core elements of doctoral preparation in mathematics education at the institutions and ways in which participation in the CLTs has changed their programs. It will also gather data on the number of doctorates in mathematics education from the CLT institutions prior to the establishment of the CLT and after their CLT ended. A comparison group of Doctoral granting institutions will be studied over the same time frame to determine the number of doctoral students graduated during similar time frames as the CLTs. Follow-up data from graduates of the CLTs will be gathered to identify programmatic strengths and weaknesses as graduates will be asked to reflect on how their doctoral preparation aligned with their current career path. The research questions are: What were the effects of CLTs on the production of new doctorates in mathematics education? What changes were made to doctoral programs in mathematics education by the CLT institutions? How well prepared were the CLT graduates for various career paths?

Designing Assessments in Physical Science Across Three Dimensions (Collaborative Research: Harris)

This is a collaborative project to develop, test, and analyze sets of technology-supported diagnostic classroom assessments for middle school (grades 6-8) physical science. Assessments are aligned with the performance assessment and evidence-centered design methodologies suggested in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012).

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1903103
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

This is a collaborative proposal among the University of Illinois at Chicago, Michigan State University, and SRI International to develop, test, and analyze sets of technology-supported diagnostic classroom assessments for middle school (grades 6-8) physical science. Assessments are aligned with the performance assessment and evidence-centered design methodologies suggested in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). The study focuses on the development of new measures of learning that take into account the interdependence of science content and practice. Two disciplinary core ideas--Matter and its Interactions, and Energy--and two scientific and engineering practices--Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, and Developing and Using Models--are used for this purpose.

The research questions are: (1) What are the characteristic features of science assessments based upon systematic application of the Evidence-Centered Design (ECD) assessment process?; (2) To what extent can assessment designs incorporate critical core idea, crosscutting concept and science/engineering practice dimensions in ways that both separate and integrate these dimensions as part of the design architecture?; (3) What is the evidence that the multiple dimensions of science learning (e.g., content, practices and crosscutting concepts) are separable and recoverable in the performance of students who respond to these assessments?; (4) How instructionally sensitive are these assessments? (i.e., Do they show differential and appropriate sensitivity to students' opportunity to learn science in ways consistent with the vision contained in the NRC Framework?); (5) What forms of evidence can be provided for the validity of these assessments using a multifaceted validity framework that takes into account both the interpretive and evidentiary components of a validity argument for these new assessments?; (6) What are the characteristics of assessments that best serve the needs of classroom teachers relative to a formative assessment process and in what ways do such assessments and scoring processes need to be designed to support effective teacher implementation?; and (7) What are the unique affordances and opportunities provided by technology in designing and implementing assessments focused on merging content & practices performance expectations?

Assessments are iteratively designed and administered in three school districts and a laboratory school in Florida and one school district in Wisconsin using the "Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology" curriculum. The three school districts in Florida have classrooms that are using typical curriculum. The assessments will also be administered and tested with students in these classrooms. To address the research questions, the project conducts five major tasks: (1) development of assessment items using the ECD process to document and guide coherence of items; (2) an alignment study to review design patterns and task templates; (3) a cognitive analysis study to empirically investigate the extent to which the items elicit the intended guidelines; (4) three empirical studies, including (a) an early-stage testing with teachers (n=6) and students (n=180) in Year 1, (b) a pilot testing in Year 2 with teachers (n=12) and students (n=360), and (c) a main study in Year 3 with teachers (n=30) and students (n=900); and (5) a study to investigate the formative use of the assessment items using teacher focus groups' feedback and analysis of student performance data from previous studies.

Project outcomes are: (a) research-informed and field-tested assessment prototypes that measure students' thinking around the two physical science core ideas and the two scientific and engineering practices; (b) relevant data and procedures used in the studies; and (c) a framework for the formative use of the assessments, including guidelines, scoring rubrics, and criteria for assessment design decisions.

This project was previously funded under award #1316903.

A Research Design Conference: How Can Digital Resources Increase Collaboration and Support Teachers Implementing Standards?

A two day workshop/colloquium will be hosted at Northwestern University and is focused on the use of video and online learning in support of the College and CAREER Readiness Standards.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1348695
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2013 to Thu, 07/31/2014
Full Description: 

The Teaching Channel is hosting two day workshop/colloquium at Northwestern University focused on the use of video and online learning in support of the College and CAREER Readiness Standards. The three research questions are: 1) How can these tools increase discussion, inquiry and reporting of teacher progress on the standards through data sharing and writing? (2) What research tools can be deployed to determine the efficacy of these tools and their potential for scale? and (3) How can video and on line professional development tools best support teachers in a time of increasing accountability and change?

The outcomes of the workshop include research briefs and a summary paper. These will be posted on the Teaching Channel resource cite.

Using Research-Based Formative Assessment to Improve Mathematics Teaching and Learning

This project provides professional development and support for teachers of mathematics in Grades 3-5 and assesses the impacts of the project through a rigorous cluster randomized control trial. The project supports teachers to provide instruction that helps all students reach ambitious academic goals in mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316527
Funding Period: 
Wed, 01/01/2014 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Full Description: 

Using Research-Based Formative Assessment to Improve Mathematics Teaching and Learning builds on almost a decade of research and development by the Vermont Mathematics Partnership's Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP). The project provides professional development and support for teachers of mathematics in Grades 3-5 and assesses the impacts of the project through a rigorous cluster randomized control trial. The project supports teachers to provide instruction that helps all students reach ambitious academic goals in mathematics by: 1) increasing teachers' knowledge of mathematics and of how students learn specific mathematics content, and 2) providing teachers with specific tools and routines for enacting formative assessment and adapting their instruction. The project has three integrated components: 1) professional development and ongoing support in 30 New York City public schools, 2) research on teachers' use of assessment evidence in instruction, and 3) research on student and teacher outcomes.

Helping students deeply understand mathematical concepts requires teachers to become skilled in formative assessment, particularly in the ongoing analysis of evidence in student work when making instructional decisions: moving beyond right and wrong answers into the more important questions of how students think and reason mathematically, where their misconceptions lie, and how they can be addressed instructionally. Yet research shows that teachers struggle with the analytic aspects of formative assessment, and little is known about how teachers use evidence from student work or thinking to improve their instruction. The project addresses both of these concerns by: 1) implementing a rigorous, research-driven approach to formative assessment in 30 schools; and, 2) studying the effects of the intervention in ways that clearly measure impact on teachers and students, including the link between how teachers interpret student work and how they respond instructionally. The creativity and originality of the project lie in its synthesis of a vast body of knowledge about mathematics teaching and learning into a clearly packaged and presented set of tools, routines, and strategies which are directly usable in practice and can dramatically improve the quality of mathematics instruction. The project is organized around the central goal of improving teachers' formative assessment practice, with the research design providing rigorous evidence of project impacts while simultaneously informing the field.

The project will be implemented in a highly diverse school district serving a large number of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in mathematics and the sciences. The formative assessment system developed through this project will ultimately be made available, through a website and multi-media booklets, to all teachers in New York City public schools and across the country. The OGAP formative assessment system will be tied to college and career readiness standards in mathematics rather than a particular curriculum-although it addresses the same content as the major mathematics curricula-which means the materials, knowledge, and strategies will be usable across settings.

Science as a Context for English Language Development: Exploring the Practical and Theoretical Implications for Teacher Professional Development

This is a 2-day conference that will examine current strategies, issues and future challenges related to teacher professional development regarding integrating inquiry-oriented science instruction and English Language Development (ELD) for K-5 students. The conference convenes 40 researchers and professional development practitioners who examine theory and practice in inquiry-based science instruction and ELD.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316537
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

The Exploratorium's Institute for Inquiry (IFI) has planned a 2-day conference that will examine current strategies, issues and future challenges related to teacher professional development regarding integrating inquiry-oriented science instruction and English Language Development (ELD) for K-5 students. The conference convenes 40 researchers and professional development practitioners who examine theory and practice in inquiry-based science instruction and ELD, focusing on three overall objectives:

1. Learn how inquiry-oriented science instruction can provide a good context for learning English and science.

2. Address the conceptual challenges and perspectives that inquiry-oriented science instruction and ELD present.

3. Articulate the issues that the challenges of inquiry science and ELD present to professional development programs that support teachers in adapting their knowledge and classroom practice to an integrated science/ELD approach.

The conference keynote, delivered by Guadalupe Valdés, addresses the language demands and opportunities that are introduced in the science and engineering practices described in the National Research Council?s Framework for K-12 Science Education and the NGSS. (The framework is based on a recent article co-authored by Valdés.) Participants include practitioners and researchers in science education, teacher education, professional development, language acquisition, and bilingual education. The conference will combine presentations providing overviews of current research and practice, combined with the use of case studies and working sessions to arrive at overall recommendations for directions for future research, professional development and practice.

Key conference outcomes include:

- A set of research questions.

- A set of principles and guidelines for professional development related to ELD and science.

- Articles submitted to journals and professional publications by conference organizers and participants that will disseminate conference ideas, as well as conference presentations.

- Partnerships developed between practitioners and researchers.

- Case studies published on the IFI website.

- Continuing dialogue via blogs, webinars, and the IFI website.

Conference outcomes will be disseminated through research and professional development journals, conference presentations, and the IFI website.

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