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Standards-based assessment and Instruction

What People Are Saying

"I think all schools should have this kind of test."

Lucas, a 4th grader upon completing an Exemplars problem

"'We need to start,' said my students last week. They told me to hurry up, read the problem and pass out the paper. This is a noticeable change in student attitudes toward problem solving. They are no longer meek, frightened, inhibited problem solvers."

Karen McKee's first grade classroom

Easthampton, NY

"I really loved Exemplars. They really challenge my mind. Exemplars really helped me in math... At the beginning of Exemplars I was never good, because I was an Apprentice, now I'm really good...I learned from Exemplars that there are so many different kinds of math, for example, adding, multiplication, division and subtraction."

Elementary Student

"I love Exemplars now. They changed my life because it made me smarter at math and made me love it."

Elementary Student

"Because of Exemplars, I learned to think like a mathematician and if you do, you understand the problem a lot better. When I think like a mathematician, I explain the problem, look for patterns and get a strategy."

Elementary Student


From Texas

"I love Exemplars. In fact, it is all I want to do with the kids. I am amazed at the thought processes it evokes from the children. Exemplars gives a perfect view into the child's thinking and their minds. Exemplars tasks also give the child who has difficulty grasping math concepts the opportunity to explore, and apply techniques and thoughts to the mathematical process."

"I think the Exemplars are great. My students have really done well with word problems since I have started using some of the Exemplars".

H. Knight, Elementary Teacher


From Idaho

This is an excellent resource! Thanks for making it available. Exemplars are a wonderful tool for our highly capable math students. They encourage them to show their work, explain their thinking and label their answers.

C. Hyndman, Enrichment Facilitator


From Connecticut

"If I think about all the strategies teachers have used to try to improve student achievement in math, the Exemplars program was the most powerful."

Diane Ullman, Assistant Superintendent

Farmington, CT

From California

"Exemplars helps bridge the gap between standards on a page and students and teachers in the classroom."

Dale Vigil, Superintendent

Santa Rosa, CA

From Texas

"Questions that puzzled many of our school board members, campus principals, community members, administration staff, teachers and students were:

  • How do we know what students really know?
  • Do students and parents understand what we expect students to be able to do well?
  • Is what I consider acceptable, considered acceptable by others?
  • Are students really making the connections in their learning?
  • Will students recognize the connections in future or unique situations?

Searching for answers to questions such as these was the catalyst for developing district academic standards. In conjunction with this development was the development of assessments that would provide evidence of meeting the standard. We wanted assessments that would tell us more than what most multiple-choice assessments were able to provide. At this point, Exemplars moved to center front stage for mathematics. Several campuses in our district had been engaged in 'The New Standards' language arts or mathematics project and were familiar with the idea of performance tasks. Scoring with a rubric and establishing benchmarked papers challenged most math teachers. With Exemplars, that was no longer a monumental problem, since annotated benchmarked papers are provided with each task.

We are now in our fourth year of using Exemplars. We have a district license and every campus and every math teacher regularly uses an Exemplars problem either for assessment or instruction. These campuses really see the benefits and enjoy watching their students grow mathematically. They have provided the opportunity for students to bring forth their knowledge, apply that knowledge in solving fun, challenging problems and communicate their thinking."

Mary Alice Hatchett, Director of Mathematics (retired)

Round Rock ISD

From Colorado

"My favorite experience with Math Exemplars occurred when I was completing my administrative internship as an assistant principal at a middle school. One of my primary responsibilities was to discipline students. If a student was suspended, it was required that a parent come to the school and take the student home.

On one occasion, a mother was unable to pick up her student right away, so he needed to stay in my office until she arrived. I gave him a Math Exemplars problem to work on to keep him busy. He loved it! He was engaged in the problem and truly enjoyed solving it. When his mother arrived, he was excited to show her what he had accomplished. The mother told me that this was one of her son's most positive experiences."

Jill Fellman, Math Coordinator

Jefferson County Public Schools

Higher Education

From California

"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 focussed point of view. The program is terrific."

Kathy Pezdek, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology

Claremont Graduate University

Professional Development

From Washington

"If you walk into a Tacoma classroom during math instruction, you will see kids huddled around an Exemplars task, cooperatively selecting their problem-solving strategy. Rich conversations will follow, in which students will not only defend their solutions, but also get a chance to study alternative strategies unveiled by other groups assigned to solve that very same problem.

In the fall of 1997, Tacoma schools implemented a promotion policy where students in grade 5 are required to demonstrate their proficiency in literacy and mathematical problem solving as a condition for being promoted to the sixth grade. The policy's mathematics component requires students to communicate their thinking as well as work towards an accurate solution to an extended problem. With the increased demand on student performance, it became clear to our personnel that instruction needed to change in order to prepare students for this more rigorous assessment. Yet many staff members lacked training in how to weave problem solving throughout their daily math instruction.

After searching through the myriad of problem-solving materials offered, Exemplars was chosen by Tacoma as one vehicle for helping staff and students move in this new direction.

Knowing the importance of staff development, we offered multiple workshops designed to acquaint the staff with Exemplars and how to teach towards the Exemplars rubric. Sample problems were sent regularly to schools and the Best of Math Exemplars CD-ROM was provided for each of our 46 buildings. We needed to educate the parents as well so we offered workshops around the district to acquaint them with several problem-solving strategies. Ross Brewer flew to Tacoma on two occasions to work with groups of teachers and students as we all struggled to give up some of our tried and true math practices in order to free up time to delve into problem-solving on a more regular basis."

Gaye Lantz, Curriculum Coordinator

Tacoma School District

From Canada

"In a career of more than 20 years in education and going to professional development meetings, there have only been one or two experiences that have changed the way I approach teaching. The Exemplars workshop has been one of them."

From Alaska

"This is the best professional development course I have ever taken."

From Alaska on Exemplars Summer Institutes

From Massachusetts

"Using the information Deb taught us and the rubric, we set about scoring problems. The more we did, the more we wanted to do! Who would have thought that sitting for two days in a windowless room could be so wonderful. The time flew!" 

B. Renoux

Multiage Teacher

"This was a superb presentation - best workshop I've attended in 17 years of teaching. Thank you for providing such helpful information."

B. Reynolds

Elementary Teacher

Thank you! You restored my confidence, and gave me great new tools for my toolbox!" 

A. Brainard

Elementary Teacher

Our teacher-friendly tasks are designed to support both the Common Core and Citywide instructional expectations. GO Math! alignments are also available.
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