Using a clustered randomized control trial of 44 secondary schools in the greater Philadelphia area, the project is researching the efficacy of a learning and assessment system that emphasizes students' attaining proficiency or better on a limited set of high value learning objectives in Algebra. The study allows for and expects students to resubmit assignments and be reassessed until they achieve proficiency or greater. In this new classroom dynamic, students assume more responsibility for and be active agents in their own learning. For their part, teachers will adopt instructional strategies and techniques that support their students' ongoing and continuous learning, including defining learning outcomes, providing frequent and individualized feedback, and participating in professional development. Based on six years of beta-testing, the model has demonstrated great promise for raising academic achievement and reducing dropout rates by increasing students' engagement with important mathematical content.
The study's research questions are: 1) Does the use of proficiency-based assessment and reassessment of learning outcomes (PARLO) in Algebra lead to increases in secondary students' achievement and engagement in mathematics? 2) Does PARLO lead to increased student interest in pursuing more complex mathematics or science courses? Two cohorts of ninth grade students are being followed. While the system is being implemented only in ninth grade Algebra classes, student achievement data is being collected in grades 10 and 11 for all students.
The project will result in a refined assessment system as well as published papers.