(December 2011) The MARS (Math Assessment Resource Service) operation, a long-time effort of the Shell Centre for Math Education in the UK, is involved with the University of Nottingham and UC Berkeley in a Mathematics Assessment Project bringing their "balanced assessment" perspective to the US work around the Common Core State Standards in mathematics. You can download a large set of example tasks they've developed (organized along a "novice/apprentice/expert" continuum of complexity and challenge) from their web site here...This work is a significant element in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium being led by Washington state; you'll be hearing much more about this work in coming months!

Just discovered a fascinating interview study of developmental math students in California community colleges (conducted by Jim Stigler and his colleagues), published in MathAMATYC Educator in May 2011--you can find a copy online at the Statway Resources page on the Carnegie web site (it's the second of the two articles from Stigler et al referenced on that page--"What Community College Developmental Mathematics Students Understand about Mathematics...")

Virginia's two-year college system's statewide effort to revamp developmental education has produced a curriculum guide for the nine modules that now comprise their developmental math curriculum--check out the problems and materials and see what you think...

Interesting approach--think there's a relevant adaptation for our work?
Math Coaching Online

Fascinating //Grand Challenges of Engineering// project: seems like there's bound to be a wide range of mathematics embedded in and critical to thinking about these challenges; would be interesting to see how they could somehow be integrated or utilized in a precollege math curriculum...

Interesting collection of simulations, many of which have math connections (this page shows freely-available, open-source ones): Forio Simulations

Update and Progress summary of the "Transforming Precollege Education" system work groups (April 2011):

From the Jobs for the Future "Achieving Success" March 2011 newsletter for the Developmental Educational Initiative (DEI):

Developing and Implementing a Statewide Redesign of Developmental Math in North Carolina

The North Carolina Community College System has initiated a redesign of its developmental math sequence in order to achieve better outcomes for the colleges' largest population of academically underprepared students.

In October 2010, NCCCS adopted an ambitious set of Math Redesign Principles, which lay out the framework for the curricular redesign. The revised math sequence and structure will be more flexible and streamlined, so that students move more quickly through the developmental curriculum and into credit-bearing courses. NCCCS aims to roll out the redesign statewide in fall 2012.

In Brief: A Summary of the NCCCS Redesign Principles
  • Implement modular structure (discrete topics or units of study)
  • Design a faculty professional development plan for implementing new curriculum
  • Streamline content and reduce curricular redundancies
  • Implement new diagnostic assessment tools and policies that link to modules
  • Employ evidence-based decision-making
  • Ensure that central curricular themes include problem solving, critical thinking, and conceptual understanding
  • Develop a research and evaluation framework

To lead this effort, the DEI State Policy Team in North Carolina established a statewide DEI Math Redesign Taskforce, which includes 18 faculty members from across the state. The taskforce will drive the curriculum redesign, placing a strong emphasis on faculty input and instructional innovation. In a recent report to the State Board of Community Colleges, NCCCS President R. Scott Ralls states, "Through the Developmental Education Initiative, faculty are leading discussions about the integration and contextualization of developmental math... and about the role and importance of modularized instruction. I believe the fruits of these faculty-led efforts will be fundamental to our SuccessNC goals." The Redesign Taskforce has attended numerous conferences and workshops to inform the redesign efforts, looking to other community college state systems, such as Virginia's, for input and guidance.

Multiple assessment and placement studies are underway in an effort to further support the revised curriculum. The Community College Research Center is conducting a study of multiple measures of placement, and this will inform policy recommendations to the state board, as well as guide the selection or development of diagnostic assessments when the math redesign process is complete. In addition, the Redesign Taskforce is asking colleges across the state to participate in a study that examines outcomes for students who are taking developmental math through accelerated courses, using the Emporium model, or as part of learning communities. The results will be useful to colleges interested in innovative delivery options to accompany the redesigned developmental math curriculum.

For more information, please contact: Cynthia Liston at cynthialiston@nc.rr.com.


The Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching is leading the work on the Statway Project as part of a long-term commitment to work on problems related to developmental education; as part of that broader effort they are producing and assembling a lot of very interesting resources and perspectives on a range of critical issues, many of which are useful for us in our RPM work. Check out their webinar and related material focused on "Networked Improvement Communities" and think about how that work relates to what we're trying to do in our project!===

The Next Gen Learning Challenges grant (Wave I) has announced the finalists selected from the pre-proposals submitted in late last fall; there are some intriguing innovations being considered--check out brief descriptions at the web link above...

From Bob Pacheco, Learning Assessment listserv, here's a link to a number of resources and suggestions around involving adjuncts in assessment work (seems like the ideas might have some relevance to involving adjunts in any kind of meaningful campus- or department-based work):

Involving Adjuncts in Assessment

Heard of "Gizmos"...? Check them out at ExploreLearning...

ASSISTments is a terrible name but seems to be an interesting online (and free) math tutoring and assessment platform--seems similar in some ways to WAMAP as well as to Khan Academy resources...

New page added for the RMP Project Leads’ Meetings!

Here's a great article on teachers grappling with the challenges of formative assessment from 2004 by Paul Black, Dylan Wiliam and colleagues that somehow I hadn't run across until someone sent it to me recently. It's a follow-up and companion piece to their classic 1998 "Inside the Black Box" article we've shared with you before, and I think it's extremely relevant to the work we're trying to pursue in the RPM project...

I saw this profile recently in the New York Times and thought it was worth sharing; there's an element of self-promotion and cocky arrogance about this young woman that I both admire and find unsettling, but I think her passion seems genuine and her critique, if a bit heavy-handed, has some validity nonetheless. Check out her video below (and does it mean anything good that it went viral on the web? :-):

Check out the latest work related to developmental math from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: "Exploration of Math Intensives as a Strategy to Move More Community College Students Out of Developmental Math Courses"...

(1/6/11) Just got a promo on a new book called Fires in the Mind focusing on student voices about what motivates them to learn and develop expertise; the project is part of a larger effort called What Kids Can Do (the "First in the Family" link there, with material targeting students who are first in their families to attend college, seems especially interesting). The book draws on conversations with K-12 students but seems to include mostly high schoolers, and the table of contents, excerpt, and related videos I reviewed look very interesting and relevant to our work. We're ordering copies of the book to distribute to each of the project colleges so you can add it to your set of available resources for your faculty...I think the general issues and perspectives these students raise are very consistent with what you'd find with your own students, but I'm still hopeful that we can figure out a way to use our project to do something comparable to this work focused specifically on the students we have in our precollege math courses...

On a somewhat unrelated note, I found this video as I followed the thread of connections from one of the videos on the "Fires in the Mind" site; it hit a little close to home as I expect I do probably come across at times like the Friday the 13th character in this exchange... :-)

Here's a recent provocative TED Talk presentation from Conrad Wolfram on "Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers":

And here's the web site Wolfram is developing to focus some attention and energy around these issues...

Here’s yet another Gates-funded effort, the Measures of Effective Teaching Project. One of their partners is the Learning Mathematics for Teaching project at the University of Michigan, and one of the rubrics they used for classroom observation is the Mathematical Quality of Instruction. it looks like very interesting work, and Gates is making a serious investment in the project; it's focused on the K-12 side of things but there seems to be plenty there that would be relevant to our work!

**"Accountable Talk" in Mathematics**

Nothing too fancy or particularly provocative here, but I stumbled on this in my web travels one day and it seems concrete and practical in terms of the kind of language and thinking to encourage with students in math classes...

This is a new presentation from Hans Rosling on the joy of statistics using an amazing data visualization tool that's been around for a while and that many of you may be familiar with--Gapminder...