This project consists two parts. The first is to provide workshops for mathematics education researchers about psychometric models, such as IRT. The second part is for mathematics education researchers and psychometricians to have an in-depth discussion of applying advanced psychometric models to develop next generation, transformative assessments in mathematics that are valid and reliable. This project is to provide much needed opportunities for the mathematics education research community to be aware of the advancement of the psychometric models and equip the new generation of the mathematics education researchers to use advanced psychometric models in their research. Similarly, it will also provide opportunities for psychometricians to understand the nature of mathematics learning and understanding.

Project Report

was funded by the NSF REESE program. The conference brought together researchers in two disciplines: mathematics education and psychometrics. Mathematics education researchers are concerned with improving the teaching and learning of mathematics. Psychometricians develop and apply statistical models for tests. The conference took place in Atlanta, Georgia from September 25 to September 27, 2011 and was attended by 65 researchers in both fields. Results of the conference were disseminated through presentations at subsequent conferences for researchers in both fields and a monograph to be published by the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, the leading mathematics education research journal. The purpose of the monograph is to raise awareness among mathematics education researchers about opportunities and challenges of using psychometric models for gaining insight into the teaching and learning of mathematics, and how it can be improved in our schools. Intellectual merit: Although assessment plays a critical role evaluating both students and teachers of mathematics, research collaborations between mathematics educators and psychometricians have been limited. Most mathematics education researchers are not aware of recent developments in psychometrics that open new possibilities for using psychometric models as tools. Most psychometricians are unaware of the many insights into the nature of mathematical knowledge that could inform how such knowledge is assessed. A main goal of the conference was to foster cross-disciplinary conversations between the two fields that could lead to new research on applying current psychometric models to problems in mathematics education and an understanding that, in some cases, desired applications will require development of psychometric models that go beyond what is currently available. Broader impact: Instruction focused on memorizing procedures for computing and for solving formulaic word problems has left many U.S. students with little understanding of the mathematics they have studied, unable to reconstruct computational methods when forgotten, and ill-prepared to solve problems in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines or day-to-day life. A string of national reports has sounded the alarm about our economic competitiveness. Improving mathematics education outcomes will require strengthening not only learning goals for students and the preparation of school mathematics teachers, but also the development of assessments that are coordinated with and support classroom teaching and learning. Fostering greater collaborative research between mathematics education and psychometrics holds promise for long-term improvement in assessments that support the teaching and learning of mathematics. There is critical need to build capacity for the types of collaborations described above. The Interdisciplinary Conference on Assessment in K-12 Mathematics project took steps toward such capacity building by inviting researchers at the full range of career points, from doctoral students and new faculty at the beginning of their careers to senior, highly experienced researchers.

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University of Georgia
United States
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