For the administrator interested in supporting teachers in improving their classroom assessment practices, these criteria suggest a set of roles that extend beyond the design of effective professional development experiences.
There is a growing knowledge base about classroom assessment in mathematics, and we recommend that a district or school should support lead teachers in efforts to understand and contribute to that knowledge base. Lead teachers should be supported in their experimentation with and reflection on improvements in classroom assessment practice.
"I'm firmly convinced you need practicing teachers leading staff development. Start with a small group of teacher leaders, whom their peers respect, who will in time be able to get buy-in from other teachers in the field. That kind of buy-in doesn't come from efforts led by the superintendent. You have to build capacity among your teacher leaders. They have to be teachers that other teachers respect. You let them try things, and let them "sell" it—for lack of a better word—to other teachers.
"You have got to build that capacity, it makes it much more believable. It's much more powerful. We used to rely on outside staff developers. . . . And now I think it's more powerful if it comes from teachers rather than outside experts. There's still a role for those folks in helping to develop the capacity with the teacher leaders, so that we have that capacity within the school building. We never really thought about it before, what teacher leaders need to know about staff development, what techniques and strategies."
Mathematics supervisor for large urban district in the west
"I think a good approach is teachers mentoring teachers. You need to start with the mentor, provide the release time so that person comes to believe in it and is good at it, and then the quickest way to get others involved is to have that person, the mentor, working with others."
A teacher who is a veteran of portfolio-scoring teams
Our experience in assessment-focused groups makes us believe that expertise does not come without experimentation. And so an essential element of support is to nurture an experimental mind-set among teachers and to provide them the latitude and time in their schools and districts to experiment.
Many teachers and administrators speak to the power of teacher-led staff development efforts. A cadre of well-informed and experienced lead teachers can work, over time, with a larger