MATHEMATICS EDUCATION FORUM

October 22, 2014

FIELDS MATHEMATICS EDUCATION FORUM
MINUTES - January 18, 2003

Present: S. Brown, Shirley Dalrymple, Sandy DiLena, George Gadanidis, Cyril Garner, Gila Hanna, Bradd Hart, Sonia Beu Jaafar, Dragana Martinovic, Eric Muller, Chris Nanou, Geoff Roulet, Tom Sepp, Margaret Sinclair, Joe Sinyor, Peter Taylor, Al Vilcius

Regrets: Ed Barbeau, Chris Suurtamm, Walter Whiteley

10:00 start

1. George Gadanidis reported that preparations for the February Online Meeting were progressing well, and that public keynotes would be held on Thursday, February 27 by Alan Kay and Seymour Papert. The working group meetings would begin with a keynote by Bill Muirhead on Friday, February 28. He also reported that a Mathematics as Story Symposium would be held in June.

2. Assessment Presentations
Sandy DiLena
-Description of Official ministry curriculum and assessment documents, available here through the Ministry of Education website
-She explained that the current curriculum was expectations-based, and that what was written by those framing the curriculum was not necessarily what was passed by parliament
-Focusses on 3 separate elements: assessment (gathering information), evaluation (judging the quality based on criteria) and reporting (report cards). It is important to note that the main purpose of the first two factors should always be to improve the quality of student learning.
-Achievement charts now have same categories and judgement criteria in all subject areas.
-Evaluation: 30% final exam, 70% term work - term work 'should reflect student's most consistent level of achievement'
-learning skills are reported separately from the mark, whereas they used to be included; these skills are tracked from grade 1, but aren't included in what is sent to universities
-One example of a problem with assessment: on a test, the answer is provided for a student, who has to find the steps necessary to get the answer. They focus so much on getting to that answer, that they don't finish the test.
-Curriculum is now destinations-based: university, workplace, etc.

George Gadanidis
- Assessment in math has always been fuzzy; standard tests have often received different marks, though fundamentally the same
-Currently, what are considered to be Level 3 skills involve understanding a given question fully, while Level 4 involves extending that understanding to problem solving
-One issue that should be considered is whether assessment is driving instruction
-The distinction between assessment and evaluation is fairly arbitrary, when in fact the two concepts are quite similar.
-In some ways, the categories in the achievement chart could be seen in a hierarchy; the chart was not originally meant to be the core of assessment
-Why do all math teachers need to evaluate all or multiple strands in a given term?
-In Ontario, there is "high-stakes assessment"

Shirley Dalrymple
-Percentages have always been used for ranking; it has been very difficult for teachers to pull away from the percentage scheme towards the use of rubrics, which are new to math evaluation
-When new factors, such as curriculum, are introduced, Professional Development tends to focus on the new, and forgets about what came before
-In many cases, kids would hypothesize, test, and go back and erase their hypothesis if it was proved wrong
-Role playing: kids write differently if given a target audience, or when writing for a given teacher
-With OSS students, those who are going through now with the intention of spending 4 years will have trouble if they don't get in, and might do better under a
4 1/2- or 5-year plan.
-The 2 categories where kids tend to grow the most are those marked with rubrics
-Number marks do not necessarily need to be given all along the way, since development and progress can be seen
-The current curriculum embeds the intent of the 1985 OSS curriculum, which had the ideas only as a preamble
-Many teachers are having trouble with the current volume of marking
-Electronic version of assessment handouts are avialable by following the links below:
Evaluation
Planning a Trip 1
Planning a Trip 2
Planning a Trip 3
Portfolio Assessment
Test 2 - Relations

Group Discussions
-What constituted Levels 1, 2 and 3 was not agreed on universally - this presents a false view of uniformity and puts pressure on teachers to conform to an imprecise procedure.

Where do we go with assessment in Ontario?
-Provide forms of assessment (tests, quizzes, assignments) that teachers are familiar with to inform them of the levels being looked at and how to test them.
-Fields doesn't need to generate another set of resources: uniformity is impossible