Middle School

Formative Assessment in the Mathematics Classroom: Engaging Teachers and Students

This project is developing a two-year, intensive professional development model to build middle-grades mathematics teachers’ knowledge and implementation of formative assessment. Using a combination of institutes, classroom practice, and ongoing support through professional learning communities and web-based resources, this model helps teachers internalize and integrate a comprehensive understanding of formative assessment into daily practice.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
Cynthia Char
Full Description: 

Formative Assessment in the Mathematics Classroom: Engaging Teachers and Students (FACETS) 

This project is submitted as a full research and development project that addresses challenge #3, how can the ability of teachers to provide STEM education be enhanced?

The FACETS project will develop a 2-year, intensive professional development model to build middle grades mathematics teachers’ knowledge and implementation of formative assessment. Using a combination of institutes, classroom practice, and ongoing support through professional learning communities and web-based resources, this model will help teachers internalize and integrate a comprehensive understanding of formative assessment into daily practice. As part of the professional development model, we will create a variety of products:

  • a facilitator’s guide describing the components of the professional development model and suggestions for using the model to provide a professional development program,
  • cyberlearning products such as interactive forums and a vetted resource library, and
  • video and other materials for the professional development activities and resource library.

FACETS includes a formative research component centered on the following questions:

1. How do mathematics teachers’ knowledge and practice of formative assessment change as a result of participation in the proposed professional development?

2. What learning trajectory describes teachers’ learning about formative assessment, and what are common barriers to successful implementation?

Reports of research findings will include journal articles on teachers’ learning trajectory for formative assessment and common barriers to successful implementation faced by teachers.

Intellectual merit: Our field work, supported by existing research, has shown that math teachers have difficulty fully implementing formative assessment in their classroom. Existing professional development programs either present a comprehensive understanding without a focus on mathematics, or focus on mathematics but only emphasize some of the critical aspects needed to bring out the full potential of formative assessment. This project will develop a professional development model that a) presents a comprehensive understanding of formative assessment and b) focuses specifically on mathematics. Furthermore, this project proposes to contribute to the field of mathematics teacher education through a deeper insight into mathematics teachers’ learning and practice of formative assessment. This insight can be used by professional developers and teacher educators in mathematics to make decisions that help teachers progress more effectively in their learning. This project brings together a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in formative assessment, professional development, mathematics, mathematics education, and teacher education research.

Broader impacts: We anticipate that the professional development will have an immediate impact on participating teachers, and on their students, as they learn about and implement formative assessment in their classrooms. Individual districts and schools have expressed an interest in the FACETS professional development program. The New Hampshire State Department of Education also indicates support for statewide implementation. In addition, research results regarding teachers’ learning trajectories for formative assessment will be crucial to inform future professional development and teacher education programs, and to help teachers reflect on, and guide, their own learning. Data regarding the major barriers to teachers’ learning of formative assessment will also impact future professional development by identifying issues needing additional focus, as will data regarding the effect on those barriers of factors such as teaching experience and mathematical knowledge for teaching. Finally, as there is a paucity of video and other examples of formative assessment in mathematics classrooms, the resource library will make widely available a sorely needed resource to teachers grappling with understanding and implementing formative assessment in mathematics classrooms in a practical way.

Resources for Supporting Lesson Study in Mathematics

This project creates professional development materials that support secondary mathematics teachers in improving teaching and learning through lesson study. Project resources support school districts in launching a lesson study program with a strong mathematical focus, an emphasis on teacher learning within the lesson study model and support for building the local lesson study leadership needed to implement and expand a lesson study program.

Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Mon, 05/01/2006 to Fri, 04/30/2010

Supporting Staff Developers in the Implementation of Professional Development Programs to Improve Mathematics Education for Students with Disabilities

This project is (1) conducting a qualitative study on the way facilitators use Math for All (MFA), an NSF-supported set of professional development materials for teachers who teach elementary school students with disabilities; (2) developing resources based on that study for teacher leaders and other facilitators of professional development; and (3) conducting fieldtests of the resources to examine their usefulness and impact.

Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Teresa Duncan
Full Description: 


The Coaching Cycle: An Interactive Online Course for Mathematics Coaches

The Coaching Cycle project is creating an online course for K–8 mathematics instructional coaches. The project targets coaches in rural areas and small schools who do not have access to regular district-wide professional development. It provides training in the skills needed for effective instructional coaching in mathematics by using artifacts collected by practicing coaches to engage course participants in the practice of coaching skills.

Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2007 to Fri, 09/30/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Eduation Alliance at Brown University

Fostering Mathematics Success in English Language Learners

This project is an efficacy study of the Fostering Geometrical Thinking Toolkit (FGTT) previously developed with NSF support. FGTT is a 40-hour professional development intervention focusing on properties of geometric figures, geometric transformations, and measurement of length, area, and volume. The study addresses four research questions, three examining participating teachers and one examining the impact of teachers' professional development on ELL students.

Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2008 to Sun, 07/31/2011
Full Description: 

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and Horizon Research, Inc., are conducting the DR-K12 research project, Fostering Mathematics Success of English Language Learners (ELLs): An Efficacy Study of Teacher Professional Development (FMSELL), a study of the effects of the Fostering Geometric Thinking

Toolkit professional development materials (FGTT) for teachers of ELLs. It will address four research questions:

1.     Does participation in FGTT increase teachers’ geometric content knowledge?

2.     How does teachers’ participation affect attention to students’ thinking and mathematical communication?

3.     How does participation affect instructional practices?

4.     What impact on ELLs’ problem-solving strategies is evident when teachers participate in FGTT?

FGTT is a 40-hour professional development intervention focusing on properties of geometric figures, geometric transformations, and measurement of length, area, and volume. The project tests the hypothesis that geometric problem solving invites diagramming, drawing, use of colloquial language, and gesturing to complement mathematical communication and affords teachers opportunities to support ELL learning. The research design uses a randomized block design with 25 pairs of professional development facilitators matched according to their districts’ demographic information.

Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC): The Georgia Tech Laboratory for New Electronic Materials

This project addresses the need for new electronic materials and associated processes for applications in microelectronics, optics and sensors. Materials growth methods, electrical, chemical and physical characterization, pattern generation, device fabrication, and theory/modeling are invoked to ensure holistic and interdisciplinary approaches to the development and investigation of novel materials and devices.

Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Sun, 08/31/2014

Science Learning: Integrating Design, Engineering and Robotics (SLIDER)

This project is developing and implementing a rigorous eighth grade physical science program that utilizes engineering design, LEGO™ robotics and mechanics, and a problem-based learning approach to teach mechanics, waves, and energy.

Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2009 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Gordon Kingsley
Full Description: 

SLIDER is a 5 year $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Discovery Research K-12 (DR-K12) program. During the grant period (10/1/09 -9/30/14), the SLIDER program will seek to answer the question: "What effects do robotics, engineering design, and problem-based inquiry science have on student learning and academic engagement in 8th grade physical science classes?"

The Team:

Georgia Tech faculty and staff from a number of academic units (CEISMC, CETL, Math, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering & Computing) and a national-level advisory board.  

Teachers, principals and school system administrators representing Fulton County Schools, Cobb County Schools  and Emanuel County Schools and the Georgia Department of Education.

Richard Millman  PI
Marion Usselman  Co - PI
Donna Llewellyn Co-PI for Research

Program Goals:

  1. Design and implement a problem-based robotics curriculum as a context for 8th graders to learn physics and reasoning skills, and as a way to increase student engagement, motivation, aptitude, creativity and STEM interest.
  2. Conduct research to determine the effectiveness of the program across all curriculum development parameters.
  3. Determine how students engage the material across ethnic, socio- cultural, gender and geographic (rural, urban, and suburban) lines.
  4. Measure the “staying power” of the experience as students move from middle to high school.

The Method:

Using “backwards design” strategies, the SLIDER curriculum development team at CEISMC will create inquiry-based engineering design instructional materials for 8th grade Physical Science that use robotics as the learning tool and that are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). The materials will employ problem-based challenges that require students to design, program, investigate, and reflect, and then revise their product or solution. They will consist of three 4-6 week modules that cover the physics concepts of Mechanics (force, motion, simple machines), Waves (light, sound, magnetism, electricity, heat), and Energy.   CEISMC will also design the teacher professional development necessary for effective implementation of the curriculum.

Mathematics Attainment and African-American Students: Discourse from Multiple Perspectives (Collaborative Research: Stinson)

This project convenes two professional mini-conferences and one professional summit to address issues related to the mathematical education of African American students. Research suggests that there is a negative relationship between African American students and mathematics. This relationship is exacerbated by the underrepresentation of African American students in advanced mathematics classes, even when they are the majority of school populations, and the overrepresentation of African American students in lower-track mathematics courses and special education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2009 to Sun, 09/30/2012

Antarctic Penguins, Teaching the Science of Climate Change: A Celebration of IPY

This project uses Antarctic pack-ice penguins to hook students into exploring how science investigates changes in Earths biota and climate. The project builds on a pilot effort, called Penguin Science, and will develop PowerPoint presentations, short video \"webisodes,\" background reading material, and live and interactive website components to engage students in ongoing field research. Students, K-14, will be involved in climate-change research that will include ecology, sedimentology, paleontology, glaciology and oceanography.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2007 to Mon, 08/31/2009

Creation and Dissemination of Upper-elementary Mathematics Assessment Modules

This project has constructed, pilot tested, validated, and is now disseminating assessments of student achievement for use in upper elementary grades.
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
Funding Period: 
Fri, 05/01/2009 to Mon, 04/30/2012
Full Description: 
This project has constructed, pilot tested, validated, and is now disseminating assessments of student achievement for use in upper elementary grades. There are four equivalent forms for each of the fourth and fifth grades, with each form covering (1) number and operations, (2) pre-algebra and algebra, and (3) geometry and measurement. Items are based in the literature on student's cognitive growth and are meant to:
  • Represent central ideas in the subject matter;
  • Focus on the meaning of facts and procedures; and
  • Require more complex responses than traditional multiple-choice problems. 
These forms and associated technical materials can be accessed at: http://cepr.harvard.edu/ncte-student-assessments


Subscribe to Middle School