Conversations with the Mathematics Curriculum: Testing and Teacher Development

Brodie, K. (Karin) ; Shalem, Y. (Yael) ; Sapire, I. (Ingrid) ; Manson, L. (Lynne)

This paper addresses the question: how do mathematics teachers make meaning from curriculum statements in relation to their teaching practices. We report on a teacher development activity in which teachers mapped test items from an international test against the national curriculum statement in mathematics. About 50 mathematics teachers across Grades 3-9 worked in small groups with a graduate student or staff member as a group leader. Drawing on focus group interviews with the teachers and the group leaders we show that the activity focused the teachers on the relationships between the intended curriculum and their teaching, i.e. the enacted curriculum, in four areas: content coverage; cognitive challenge; developing meaning for the assessment standards; and sequence and progression. We argue that the activity illuminates ways in which international tests can provide a medium for teacher growth rather than teacher denigration and alienation.

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South African Institute for Distance Education

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