MathEd Forum

June  5, 2020


Theme: Assessment in Mathematics Education
April 26 , 2014 --10am-2pm
Fields Institute, 222 College Street, Toronto


10:00-10:10AM Reports: OAME, OMCA, OCMA, CMESG, CMS, and other.

Chris Suurtamm (University of Ottawa):
Current research and thinking in assessment in mathematics: Setting the contex

Abstract: This overview will present current research and thinking in assessment with a focus on assessment that supports student learning, enhances achievement and creates a classroom culture of success (Black & Wiliam, 1998). Current thinking in assessment aligns well with current thinking in mathematics teaching and learning as both recognize that learning mathematics is complex and multidimensional and cannot be adequately supported and measured by an end of unit test alone (Brookhart, 2003; Delandshere & Petrosky, 1998). A variety of assessment strategies need to be used. Assessments that are aligned with and support effective mathematics instruction focus on important mathematical concepts, present a comprehensive view of mathematics, include the full range of mathematical activity and reflect the important role of problem solving (Graue & Smith, 1996; NCTM, 1995; Shepherd, 2001). Thus, assessment in mathematics must go beyond focusing on how well a student uses a memorized algorithm or procedure but must also elicit, assess and respond to students' mathematical understandings (NCTM, 1995).

Biography: Chris Suurtamm began her career as a secondary school mathematics teacher and department head. She is currently an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Ottawa. Her expertise in assessment is well recognized. She has been invited to serve as Co-Chair of Topic Study groups on assessment at the International Congress in Mathematical Education (ICME) - 12 in Korea in 2012 and ICME-13 in Hamburg, Germany in 2016. She is also the invited editor of the upcoming book Annual Perspectives in Mathematics Education (APME) 2015: Assessment to enhance learning and teaching, to be published in Spring 2015 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

David Poole (Trent University): (slides)
Post-Secondary Assessment Blues.

Abstract: I will briefly describe various assessment strategies that I have used over the years in a variety of university mathematics courses. The courses range from first to fourth-year and have included quite heterogeneous student audiences. I will also describe how the assessment methods are related to the teaching methods employed in these courses which, in turn, connect to the students' multiple learning styles.

Biography: David Poole is Professor of Mathematics at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, where he has taught since 1984. He is the recipient of an OCUFA Teaching Award, a 3M Teaching Fellowship, and the Canadian Mathematical Society's Excellence in Teaching Award.

Iain Brodie (Toronto District School Board):
Assessment and Evaluation in Cooperative Settings - A Tale of One Small Class. (slides)

Abstract: Assessment and evaluation are not the same thing. According to Growing Success (2010), "Assessment is the process of gathering information that accurately reflects how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject or course. The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning." To this I would add a secondary purpose which is that assessment of student work or thinking helps to improve teacher learning. In our cooperative setting, feedback goes in both directions. The teacher helps guide the students, but just as importantly, the students help guide the teacher to create better learning opportunities for the class or individual. Assessment for learning goes both ways.
In our cooperative classroom, we do not rush to evaluate. Evaluation is done at the end of learning. This does not mean that we do not judge ourselves in relation to the standards. We use the standards as grade level learning points to look forward to, or frequently to look back at as we have surpassed them. As we grow as a class of mathematicians, we have become better able to use assessment as learning to help move ourselves forward in our abilities.
The techniques to accomplish assessment in a cooperative setting are profoundly simple, yet deeply meaningful. Observation, questioning, and perhaps most importantly, listening are three techniques that are invaluable for teachers in helping to assess individual student progress within a cooperative learning setting. As these are necessarily done in a group setting, assessment is beginning to be seen as something we all can do. This has helped us move beyond simple cooperation towards creating a learning community.

Biography: Iain Brodie is a teacher with the Toronto District School Board. Over the course of twenty-four years, he has taught from grades 1 to 6 with extensive experience in the primary level, especially combined grades. Working on an M.Ed. in mathematics curriculum, he is currently working on research into expanding the learning community to validate and include the mathematical knowledge of parents.

Shirley Dalrymple (Ministry of Education):
Assessment - How will I know? How will they know? It's more than just a grade! (slides)

Abstract: The Growing Success Policy Document states that "The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve learning." This presentation will highlight examples from my teaching and learning experiences as I worked to incorporate the "Seven Fundamental Principles" of assessment into my practice. I will share a variety of assessment practices that helped me to determine what the students knew and could do but also helped the students to determine for themselves what they knew and what they needed to work on. (Assessment for and as learning) I will also share how I tried to involve my students in learning activities and worked to engage them in problem solving and collaborative investigations aligned to the curriculum, in order to support both procedural and conceptual understanding. In light of this I had to shift my practice so that curriculum, instruction, and assessment were also aligned, particularly when the focus of my assessment was on the evaluation of student achievement for reporting purposes (Assessment of learning). Further, I will provide several examples of my own professional development in the area of assessment as I was learning to deal the changes that a balanced assessment system requires.

Biography: Shirley is a retired mathematics department head from York Region District School Board, and is currently working as a provincial facilitator on contract to the Ministry of Education. She has twenty years of experience in the classroom as well as a two-year secondment to the Curriculum, Assessment and Policy Branch at the Ministry of Education. Shirley has taken a leadership role in numerous provincial projects including Grade 9 Gap Closing, CLIPS, TIPS4RM, MDM4U development, Math CAMPPP, OAME Leadership, and she was on the Steering Committee for the Field's Mathematics Education Forum for many years. Shirley also served as an OAME board member for over a decade and is a past president of OAME.

12:00-1:00PM LUNCH BREAK (Light refreshments provided)

Judy Mendaglio (Peel District School Board):
I can see how it can work in other disciplines but not in a math class. (slides)

Abstract: In 2010, the Ministry of Education released its assessment, evaluation, and reporting policy document, Growing Success". In September of 2010, it was to be implemented in all classrooms, for grades 1 - 12. Here we are, almost 5 school years later, and these policies are still not finding their way into teacher practice in the secondary mathematics classroom. Why? What are the barriers that cause the teacher-employee to disregard the policies of their employer? In this talk, I will provide a brief overview of the Growing Success document and present practices used by my teaching team that allow for an easy transition from the "quiz-chapter test" model of evaluation to a model that supports the Seven Fundamental Principles as outlined in Growing Success.

Biography: Judy Mendaglio is a secondary school teacher in the Peel District School Board. She is a part-time instructor in the Faculty of Education of Western University. She was previously a secondary teacher in the Toronto District School Board and a part-time instructor at Sheridan College and Centennial College. Before entering the education field, she worked in the private sector in the financial services industry in several capacities. Judy is currently on the Steering Committee of the Fields MathEd Forum, on the Executive of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education and a member of their Curriculum Committee. She has been involved in many writing projects for OAME as well as the Ministry of Education and has edited publications for McGraw-Hill. Judy is this year's recipient of OAME's Award for Exceptional and Creative Teaching in Secondary Mathematics. As well, her grade 9 team of teachers was recognized this year by Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) for the improvement in their results on the Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics.

1:30 - 2:00PM Panel-led discussion of challenges and dilemmas in assessment and evaluation in mathematics education.

Abstract: Wiliam (2011) points out that the teacher plays the critical role in the formative assessment process. However, implementing assessment practices to align with a focus on assessment that is imbedded in instruction and responds to student thinking can pose significant challenges. We explore these challenges through discussion with the panel of practitioners who have shared their assessment practices as well as with the Fields Math Education Forum audience participants. We also examine these challenges through the use of a framework of dilemmas (Suurtamm & Koch, 2014; Windschitl, 2002) that helps to organize our thinking around recognizing and addressing such challenges and dilemmas.

2PM: Adjournment

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