by NCTM President J. Michael Shaughnessy
NCTM Summing Up, June 2011
May President’s message, I mentioned that with the implementation of the Common
Core State Standards, some changes will occur over the next three years in the
teaching and assessing of our K–12 mathematics students. Among the changes will
be new common mathematics assessments that students in most states (44 and
counting) will take. Two assessment consortia, Partnership for the Assessment
of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter-Balanced Assessment
Consortium (SBAC), have obtained federal grants to develop assessment
tools—both formative and summative assessment instruments—to assess students’
proficiency with the content and practices specified in the Common Core State
Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) by the start of the 2014 academic year. Each
state participating in the Common Core Standards will use the assessment
instruments created by one of the two consortia. Some states have chosen which
of the consortia they will work with, while others are still considering their
plans. The assessment consortia are beginning to share their plans for
assessing the Common Core Standards, and we all must keep informed of their
draft assessment plans as the implementation process goes forward.
recent conference, “Moving Forward Together: Curriculum & Assessment and
the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics,” leaders of the two consortia
presented drafts of their current assessment plans to a group of nationally
recognized leaders in mathematics education. The PARCC and SBAC presentations are both available
on the NCTM website. Both consortia
included their implementation timelines, pointed to their plans for assessment
support tools, and outlined some of the details of their assessment plans. For
example, PARCC currently plans to include “through course” assessments at
intervals throughout the school year. SBAC is planning to create adaptive
tests—tests that generate subsequent items for a student depending on how he or
she responded to previous items. PARCC plans to provide content frameworks,
model instructional units, sample assessment tasks, and professional
development modules along with their assessment instruments. SBAC plans to
offer online assessment literacy guides, provide training for local development
of assessment tasks, and create virtual professional learning communities
around their assessment instruments.
conference was a priority of the Joint Task Force on the Common Core Standards
(NCTM, AMTE, NCSM, ASSM) and funded by a National Science Foundation grant.
Presentations by the two consortia, along with panel presentations at the
conference, generated much discussion and debate. The conference report includes a summary and recommendations for how the
mathematics education community should continue to work to influence the CCSSM
assessment and implementation processes.
report’s recommendations are extensive and detailed. They focus on concerns
raised about the assessment plans and the processes for revising them, the need
for ongoing professional development throughout the implementation of CCSSM and
the accompanying assessments, and the importance of including expertise from
the mathematics education community in the plans of the consortia for
assessment design and review. The recommendations include the following:
that the Standards for Mathematical Practice are embedded in the assessments.
attention on content changes at the middle grades.
the PARCC “through-course” assessments to support teaching and learning by
facilitating multiple modes of content delivery.
SBAC in the creation of scoring categories, sub-scores on constructs, and
tagging systems to ensure that valid information is reported to teachers,
parents, and students.
long-term sustainability of assessments and an evidence-based approach to
revisions to ensure that they are appropriate.
the help of curriculum developers in the
creation of instructional tools, including content frameworks, model
instructional units, formative assessment tools, and resources.
and lobby for policy-level changes to lengthen the timeline and process of
implementing the assessments, given the complexity of the task.
the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to create and communicate a
governing structure for current and future work on the CCSS.
share a few reflections on some of the conference recommendations:
were in agreement that assessment of the CCSSM Standards for Mathematical
Practice is a necessary condition for the success of any assessment plan
related to the Common Core State Standards. The challenge and opportunity
provided by CCSSM is to assess students’ proficiency in selecting and using
mathematical processes in addition to their content knowledge. To do so
nationally is unprecedented, and to fail to do so when the opportunity presents
itself would be a travesty. Even states that have not adopted the CCSSM should
include the assessment of students’ mastery of the Standards for Mathematical
Practice in their state assessment plans. These standards echo the Process
Standards in NCTM’s Principles and
Standards for School Mathematics, and the skills that they identify are
indispensable to mathematics education of the highest quality.
participants voiced a good deal of concern about the depth and breadth of some
of the content changes that many states will need to make at the middle grades
as they implement the Common Core. Participants also recommended particular
attention to adjustments and revisions in the standards that may be needed at
the middle grades.
of both the PARCC and SBAC assessment plans generated many questions and
concerns, as well as focused recommendations for each plan. Any proposed
“through-course” assessments need to be designed so that they do not force
content presentation and sequencing into lockstep. Participants also urged the
consortia to design instruments that can report sub-scores on various
categories of students’ mathematical proficiency rather than one overall
report emphasizes the importance of developing assessments that will be
amenable to research, review, and revision and pointed out the critical need
for tapping the expertise of the mathematics education curriculum and assessment
communities in the design and development of the assessments. The report also
urges the consortia to continue to partner with NCTM, AMTE, NCSM, and ASSM, and
to implement the recommendations of our Joint Task Report.
idea that I have taken away from this conference is that the work of developing
assessments for CCSSM is a task that concerns all of us—curriculum and assessment leaders, mathematics
supervisors, teacher leaders and district leaders. Ensuring that the
recommendations in this conference report are enacted will take efforts on the
part of us all. PARCC recently provided a survey for educators to provide feedback and
review the assessment process as it proceeds.
assessment development processes continue to go forward over the next several
years, we will all need to stay vigilant, to inform ourselves, our colleagues,
and our peers about developments in the CCSSM assessment process. Let’s stay on
top of it!