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A Study of Middle Level Students' Mathematical Understanding Using Alternative Assessments


"The ultimate goal of any professional development opportunities for teachers ought to be the improvement of student learning. It is a goal of the Math in the Middle Institute Partnership (M2) to examine the link between increasing teachers' capacity through professional development and raising the level of student achievement. There are a number of other researchers who have pursued similar lines of inquiry (Cohen & Hill, 2000; Desimone, Porter, Garet Yoon, & Beirman, 2002; Swanson & Stevenson, 2002). This project faces the unique challenge of trying to study change in student learning as a result of professional development offered through the Math in the Middle Institute Partnership to 96 Nebraska teachers spread across more than 77,000 square miles, teaching in 47 different school districts and 67 different schools in a context where there exists no common statewide assessment system. This study presents preliminary findings from one part of the Math in the Middle Institute Partnership's research agenda, the Math in the Middle Institute Partnership's initial efforts to create and administer a common assessment to Math in the Middle teachers' middle school students. The study includes both quantitative and qualitative analyses of the variation of students' responses to the assessment given in Fall 2005 as well as a critique of the assessment problems themselves."