tunity to bring their intuitive knowledge to bear on new concepts and tended to memorize rules rather than understand symbols and procedures.5 This passive view of learning is not appropriate for the mathematics students need to master today. To develop mathematical competence, students must be involved in a dynamic process of thinking mathematically, creating and exploring methods of solution, solving problems, communicating their understanding—not simply remembering things. Assessment, therefore, must reflect and reinforce this view of the learning process.

This chapter examines three ways of making assessment compatible with the learning principle: ensuring that assessment directly supports student learning; ensuring that assessment is consonant with good instructional practice; and enabling teachers to become better facilitators of student learning.


Mathematics assessments can make the goals for learning real to students, teachers, parents, and the public.

Assessment can play a key role in exemplifying the new types of mathematics learning students must achieve. Assessments indicate to students what they should learn. They specify and give concrete meaning to valued learning goals. If students need to learn to perform mathematical operations, they should be assessed on mathematical operations. If they should learn to use those mathematical operations along with mathematical reasoning in solving mathematical problems, they must be assessed on using mathematical operations along with reasoning to solve mathematical problems. In this way the nature of the assessments themselves make the goals for mathematics learning real to students, teachers, parents, and the public.

Mathematics assessments can help both students and teachers improve the work the students are doing in mathematics. Students need to learn to monitor and evaluate their progress. When students are encouraged to assess their own learning, they become more aware of what they know, how they learn, and what resources they are using when they do mathematics. "Conscious knowledge about the resources available to them and the ability to engage in self-monitoring and self-regulation are important characteristics of self-assessment that successful learners use to promote ownership of learning and independence of thought."6

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