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Measuring What Counts: A Conceptual Guide for Mathematics Assessment
compared with 20 in 1980.2 Such assessments have usually been multiple-choice norm-referenced tests. Several researchers have studied these testing programs and judged them to be inconsistent with the current goals of mathematics education.3 Making mandated assessments consonant with the content, learning, and equity principles will require much effort.
Instruction and assessment—from whatever source and for whatever purpose—must support one another.
Studies have documented a further complication as teachers are caught between the conflicting demands of mandated testing programs and instructional practices they consider more appropriate. Some have resorted to "double-entry" lessons in which they supplement regular course instruction with efforts to teach the objectives required by the mandated test.4 During a period of change there will undoubtedly be awkward and difficult examples of discontinuities between newer and older directions and procedures. Instructional practices may move ahead of assessment practices in some situations, whereas in other situations assessment practices could outpace instruction. Neither situation is desirable although both will almost surely occur. However, still worse than such periods of conflict would be to continue either old instructional forms or old assessment forms in the name of synchrony, thus stalling movement of either toward improving important mathematics learning.
From the perspective of the learning principle, the question of who mandated the assessment and for what purpose is not the primary issue. Instruction and assessment—from whatever source and for whatever purpose—must be integrated so that they support one another.
To satisfy the learning principle, assessment must change in ways consonant with the current changes in teaching, learning, and curriculum. In the past, student learning was often viewed as a passive process whereby students remembered what teachers told them to remember. Consistent with this view, assessment was often thought of as the end of learning. The student was assessed on something taught previously to see if he or she remembered it. Similarly, the mathematics curriculum was seen as a fragmented collection of information given meaning by the teacher.
This view led to assessment that reinforced memorization as a principal learning strategy. As a result, students had scant oppor-