The Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications is engaged in an effort to bring together members of the community of mathematics curriculum developers and experts in assessment, including representatives and stakeholders from the two assessment consortia recently funded by the US Department of Education. The primary goal of the meeting is to discuss issues and recommend actions regarding assessment design and production that arise in an environment of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The format will allow information exchange and resource sharing in the service of states and districts as they work to effectively implement the CCSS. Participants will include representatives from the governing states as well as from the leadership teams of the assessment consortia along with experts in curriculum development, standards implementation and assessment.
This work is being carried out with the support and cooperation of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, and the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics.
First, it its important to understand the educational environment that led to this conference. We are currently running a race. The Common core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) have only recently come out, but in the academic year 2014-15 there will be high stakes tests administered in 46 states from grades 3 through 11. With Race to the Top these tests will be high-stakes for teachers, schools, and districts as well, since there futures may depend upon student performance. As a consequence, these assessments will determine what and how we teach mathematics for years to come. When this conference was held two Consortia had been funded to prepare these tests. As mentioned, they are working at an insane pace. With a little over two years until the tests are to be administered, not a single item has been written. Moreover, these tests must satisfy many criteria that have little to do with their content. The tests must be seen as fair. They must be considered statistically sound. They must be gradeable in finite time. And they must cover the appropriate material in the CCSSM. So, we have tests being made that will determine our curricula and our teacher training. But at the time of the conference test developers, teacher trainers, curriculum developers, and district and state administrators were simply not talking with one another. Much of tis was due to the speed with which things were being done. The purpose of the conference was to get people to catch their breaths and talk with one another about what they were doing and why they were doing it. We brought together a group of some 75 leaders from across the country - test makers, text writers, staff developers and people on the ground responsible for implementation of this reform - state and district supervisors and mathematics educators. I think it is fair to say that we all learned a great deal. And one of the things we learned is that we needed to stay in touch on a regular basis. That the entire enterprise of implementing the CCSSM was better for our interaction. Several important new relationships were formed which we believe has made the entire effort stronger.