## Position Papers on Ohio's New Learning Math Standards and Assessments from The Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics and The Ohio Math and Science Coalition

**Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics**

**Ohio’s New Learning Standards in Mathematics**

**Position statement**

**March 21, 2015**

The Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM) is an active community of mathematics

educators who work toward excellence in teaching and learning at all levels throughout the state of

OCTM strongly supports Ohio’s New Learning Standards in Mathematics. These standards have been

in development since 2009 and are research-based and evidence-based. They draw from the best state

standards, are internationally competitive, and were developed by experts in mathematics education

with input from many Ohio teachers. These standards offer a foundation for rigorous, focused, and

coherent mathematics instruction that promotes problem solving, conceptual understanding, reasoning,

and computational fluency. This foundation will help to ensure the readiness of all Ohio students for

college and careers when they graduate from high school and that they are prepared to participate fully

The historical approach to teaching mathematics has been largely focused on memorization of rules

and procedures rather than mastery of concepts, leaving students feeling timid about their

mathematical abilities. Even for many adults, this anxiety about mathematics has persisted. With

Ohio's New Learning Standards, we have an important opportunity to transform our students’

relationship with mathematics. As schools across the state have transitioned to these standards,

students have begun to learn and appreciate mathematical concepts and processes at much deeper

levels. This deep understanding supports the development of mathematical proficiency and reasoning

skills that enable students to apply mathematics effectively in careers and in everyday life.

OCTM is committed to helping educators interpret and enact Ohio’s New Learning Standards in

Mathematics. Substantive opportunities for ongoing, job-embedded professional development are vital

to ensure that all teachers understand and are prepared to implement the standards and that all

administrators and policymakers understand teachers’ needs. When properly implemented, the

standards will support all students’ access to, and success in, high-quality mathematics programs.

It is important to recognize that Ohio’s New Learning Standards are not curriculum, specific

instructional strategies, local or statewide assessments, or graduation requirements. Although

influenced by the standards, these areas are different from the standards and fall under local and/or

state control. We encourage policymakers to carefully consider each of these distinct elements when

making decisions for Ohio schools.

Most important, educators, parents, and community leaders must acknowledge that systemic

improvement occurs over periods of years, and a long-term commitment to supporting Ohio’s New

Learning Standards is necessary. The ongoing enactment of standards must reflect both current and

ongoing research on student learning and practitioners’ experiences with the standards. OCTM is

committed to working with educators and other stakeholders, over the short term and the long term, to

best support high levels of mathematics learning by all students.

**Position Paper on the Uses of Large-Scale Assessments of Mathematics and Science in Ohio**

The Ohio Mathematics and Science Coalition is a respected organization of leaders from education,

business, and the public sector that draws on research and best professional practice to advocate for

excellence in mathematics and science education for all Ohio students.

Since 1995 OMSC has facilitated collaboration among Ohio stakeholders to create a shared statewide

vision for continuous, systemic and sustainable improvement.

The OMSC supports assessment as an important part of teaching and learning and of accountability

systems. Both large-scale and classroom assessments are appropriate and necessary for a high-quality

educational system. The uses of assessments should be dictated by the purposes for which they were

designed. There are a variety of valid ways to delineate the “purposes” of assessment. The OMSC

believes that assessments, including tests, can appropriately be used to (1) monitor student progress, (2)

make instructional decisions, (3) provide data to better communicate with parents and the public about

individual and group progress, (4) evaluate programs and (5) ensure accountability of the system. Some

of these purposes are served by classroom assessments--tests or tasks or observations developed or

adapted by the classroom teacher (purposes 1, 2, and 3)--and some of these purposes are addressed by

large-scale assessments developed by states, groups of states or assessment companies (purposes 3, 4,

and 5).

All assessments should be developed with careful attention to the objectives being measured. The

OMSC supports Ohio’s New Learning Standards; such standards are necessary to ensure equitable

access to high quality learning opportunities for all students, regardless of economic status, geographic

location or other local conditions. Assessments should be carefully evaluated in order to ensure that

they are both valid (assess what they purport to assess) and reliable (accurate) for their intended uses.

OMSC supports state initiated large-scale assessments based on standards, to the extent that they

provide valid and reliable information regarding student progress and for program evaluation and

accountability relative to the standards.

Large-scale assessments are important and useful tools--for educators and for policy makers. When

data show that large numbers of students have not learned specific content, this may indicate

weaknesses or gaps in the curriculum for specific grades or courses, or it may indicate that teachers

need support in knowing how to teach that content. Similarly, if all or nearly all students demonstrate

specific knowledge, it is an indication that both the curriculum and the instruction are strong. Policy

makers can make use of large-scale assessment data in a variety of ways: Are there great differences in

student achievement based on Ohio geography? Are there great differences between the achievement

of Ohio students and other students in the United States? Does achievement vary greatly between

routine and more complex tasks? Answers to these questions may have significant implications for

resource allocation.

The OMSC is skeptical about the use of student-growth measures from large scale assessments to make

judgments about the effectiveness of teachers. Ohio currently uses student-growth measures in teacher

evaluation; specifically a Value-Added Model (VAM) of determining student-achievement growth based

1 Mathematical Intimidation: Driven by the Data, John Ewing, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, May 2011, Volume

58, Issue 5

2 ASA Statement of Using Valued-Added Models for Educational Assessment, American Statistical Association, (2014) retrieved

from: https://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf

on large-scale assessments accounts for 50% of the evaluation of some Ohio teachers. In a highly

regarded journal article, John Ewing1 argues that the research base is currently insufficient to support

the use of VAM for high-stakes decisions. Likewise the American Statistical Association2 provides a

number of cautions: “VAMs typically measure correlation, not causation…. Research on VAMs has been

fairly consistent that aspects of educational effectiveness that are measurable and within teacher control

represent a small part of the total variation in student test scores or growth;…The VAM scores

themselves have large standard errors, even when calculated using several years of data. These large

standard errors make rankings unstable, even under the best scenarios for modeling.”

The practice of using results from a single large-scale assessment (even when multiple opportunities to

take the assessment are provided) as the primary part of high-stakes decisions about students (e.g.,

promotion or graduation) is not sound educational practice. Teachers, who use a variety of data sources

and who work closely with students, are in a much better position to make such high-stakes decisions.

Ohio has wisely chosen to phase out the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT). By 2018 the OGT will be replaced

by end-of-course exams. As policy and practice around these examinations evolve, care must be taken

to ensure that the results of these tests are used thoughtfully and carefully in conjunction with other

information about student learning to assess student success.

Therefore, the Ohio Mathematics and Science Coalition advocates for a state assessment system that

provides a variety of ways for students to demonstrate understanding and mastery of important

mathematical and scientific content,

provides information to teachers and administrators that will be helpful in making

programmatic decisions that serve the needs of all students,

supports districts in the development of a comprehensive assessment system rather than being

an add-on to local assessments,

is valid at the state level and is reliably implemented across districts, and

does not use the results of large-scale assessments as the major component of high-stakes

decisions about individuals, either students or teachers.