A solid grasp of mathematical concepts is a proven predictor of later academic success for children. However, a national study has found that most kindergarten teachers spend substantial time teaching math concepts that are too basic for most students. How can teachers optimize instructional time so that all students benefit from mathematical understanding? According to Education Northwest’s Claire Gates, the answer lies in being able to pinpoint each student’s strengths and weaknesses and then differentiating instruction to better support students’ mathematical development. Our Assessing Mathematical Understanding (AMU) framework has helped teachers from coast to coast do just this. Now, by popular demand, the kindergarten and first-grade assessments have been translated into Russian and Spanish for use by dual-language classroom teachers.
Aligned with the Common Core State Standards, AMU is a comprehensive set of mathematics assessments for English-, Russian-, and Spanish-speaking kindergarten and first-grade students that provides both cumulative data about students’ progress as well as in-depth diagnostic information.
Great data is one thing, but practitioners need to know how to use their data to inform instruction. Our professional development in the AMU framework comprises a combination of on-site and web-based training to help teachers effectively administer the assessments, track student progress, and target instruction to better meet students’ individual needs.
“In our workshops, participants learn how to use the one-on-one interview structure to capture valuable data beyond the answer the student gives, but also the strategies and explanations the student uses to arrive at that answer, “explains Gates, who helped develop AMU and teaches educators to use it. “We show video and discuss how assessments may look for different learners and how to identify learning issues, and then we zero in on how to use the data collected to improve math instruction.”
Since AMU was released in spring of 2012, the free assessments have been downloaded more than 5,000 times by educators in 48 states and three countries. As a teacher from New Jersey who participated this year in the AMU professional development said, “I will use this new knowledge to create centers and differentiate instruction in order to provide opportunities for all my students to become effective learners.”