Presentation Title

How are Vermont Mathematics Teachers Structuring Learning Scales?

Project Collaborators

"The Tarrant Institution"

Abstract

With the passage of Act 77, schools across Vermont have been transitioning to proficiency-based systems of learning and assessment in the middle grades. Courses have clear sets of targets to which assignments and activities are aligned. A student’s level of understanding of each target is identified along a continuum, referred to as a learning scale. As schools and teachers develop these scales they must determine how to describe each target and how to define each level of proficiency. Because of this, the content of the scales can vary significantly among schools and teachers. The knowledge and skills that are included in these scales matters given the role of assessment in driving instructional practices.

The purpose of this research is to analyze the structure and content of the learning scales used by middle level mathematics teachers in Vermont. We are currently collecting learning scales from teachers across Vermont and anticipate having approximately 40 teachers’ scales. We plan to conduct a content analysis of this data to identify the types of knowledge and skills that are included. We have identified a set of a priori codes, and we will use open coding to look for emerging themes.

At the Conference, we plan to present examples collected so far, along with our plan for analysis. Ultimately, we hope that this study will illustrate the scales teachers are using in Vermont. By looking at the knowledge and skills that are included and excluded from the scales, we will be able to reflect on whether or not they are capturing the important information about student mathematical knowledge. We will illuminate areas of focus as well as any critical oversights. As more states and schools transition to proficiency-based learning, this study has the potential to inform discussions and decisions about the development of mathematics learning scales.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Carmen Petrick Smith

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Education and Social Services

Program/Major

Secondary Education

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

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How are Vermont Mathematics Teachers Structuring Learning Scales?

With the passage of Act 77, schools across Vermont have been transitioning to proficiency-based systems of learning and assessment in the middle grades. Courses have clear sets of targets to which assignments and activities are aligned. A student’s level of understanding of each target is identified along a continuum, referred to as a learning scale. As schools and teachers develop these scales they must determine how to describe each target and how to define each level of proficiency. Because of this, the content of the scales can vary significantly among schools and teachers. The knowledge and skills that are included in these scales matters given the role of assessment in driving instructional practices.

The purpose of this research is to analyze the structure and content of the learning scales used by middle level mathematics teachers in Vermont. We are currently collecting learning scales from teachers across Vermont and anticipate having approximately 40 teachers’ scales. We plan to conduct a content analysis of this data to identify the types of knowledge and skills that are included. We have identified a set of a priori codes, and we will use open coding to look for emerging themes.

At the Conference, we plan to present examples collected so far, along with our plan for analysis. Ultimately, we hope that this study will illustrate the scales teachers are using in Vermont. By looking at the knowledge and skills that are included and excluded from the scales, we will be able to reflect on whether or not they are capturing the important information about student mathematical knowledge. We will illuminate areas of focus as well as any critical oversights. As more states and schools transition to proficiency-based learning, this study has the potential to inform discussions and decisions about the development of mathematics learning scales.