California Success Stories
From San Carlos
Learning With and From Each Other
Working Together to Implement Assessment
Exemplars Multiple Problems, Multiple Solutions
Betty Casey, is the principal of White Oaks School in San Carlos, California. Before taking that position, she was the curriculum facilitator in Burlingame, CA. Ms. Casey described the several ways she used Exemplars with her teachers in Burlingame. She explains how in Burlingame, Exemplars tasks are:
- Applied as a tool to teach assessment
- Used to "hammer out" the district's assessment plan
- Implemented as a vehicle to promote discussion on assessment and the implications it has on teaching
A Tool to Teach Assessment
After a few monthly meetings devoted to reading and discussion about assessment, Exemplars tasks were introduced. Teachers used the tasks in their classrooms. The following month they returned with the student work the tasks generated, assessed the work together and discussed what they learned. They also chose tasks for the next session.
Ms. Casey sees this process as non-threatening and invaluable to the teachers. It allows them to learn assessment through hands-on experience, while promoting discussions with their peers on the assessment practices of their school. Teachers are learning with and from one another.
Constructing the District's Assessment Plan
Ms. Casey assembled an assessment community built of teachers, principals, and parents. The main objective of this group was to construct the assessment plan for the district. They selected tasks for grades 3, 5, and 7, to be used as assessment tools within the curriculum for the upcoming year. This was important as assessment results would be reported. They found Exemplars tasks to be extremely helpful in this process.
A Vehicle to Promote Discussion on Assessment
"These were great sessions!", states Ms. Casey, in regard to their School Improvement Planning day. Teachers at each grade level received Exemplars tasks, and over the course of the next month the math mentor and Ms. Casey met with each teacher, assisting them in assessing their students' work. The real importance of this activity was in the discussion that it generated about the assessment criteria and the implications for teaching.
Ms. Casey also suggests making sure that every educator in the school has access to Exemplars, either via their computer network, or in the school's professional library. She has always made herself available to do any of the tasks with any class, and she states that, "So far, it's been great fun!"
From Claremont Graduate University
In a number of recent studies comparing approaches to teaching mathematics in countries around the world, a list of 'best practices principles' have been identified. The Exemplars math program reflects the most important of these 'best practices principles,' and offers teachers a curriculum for teaching mathematics and assessing mathematical expertise from a contextual, problem focused point of view. The program is terrific.
Ph.D. Professor of Psychology
Claremont Graduate University
From Santa Rosa
Exemplars helps bridge the gap between standards on a page and students and teachers in the classroom.