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Measuring What Counts: A Conceptual Guide for Mathematics Assessment
reform to succeed, the yardsticks of progress must be rooted in the principles of content, learning, and equity.
The pressures to change mathematics education reflect society's disappointment with the lack of interest and accomplishment of so many students in today's schools. In the background of public debate is the steady criticism that school mathematics is out of step with today's world and is neither well taught nor well learned.
Unfortunately, these pressures often suggest inconsistent courses of action, with standards-based curriculum and instruction moving in one direction while mandated tests remain aimed in another direction, at an older, more traditional target. Too often, teachers are caught in the middle. To be effective, mathematics education must be rooted in the practice of mathematics, in the art of teaching, and in the needs of society. These pivotal forces drive the current movement to improve mathematics education:
A more comprehensive view of mathematics and its role in society: mathematics is no longer just a prerequisite subject for prospective scientists and engineers but is a fundamental aspect of literacy for the twenty-first century.
A recommitment to the traditional wisdom that mathematics must be made meaningful to students if it is to be learned, retained, and used.
The growing recognition that in this technological era, all students should learn more and better mathematics.
Assessment is the guidance system of education just as standards are the guidance system of reform.
Assessment is the guidance system of education just as standards are the guidance system of reform. It helps teachers and parents determine what students know and what they need to learn. Assessment can play a powerful role in conveying clearly and directly how well students are learning and how well school systems are responding to the national call for higher education standards.