Challenge

Orange County Department of Education serves 28 school districts and over 493,000 students. Many efforts throughout the county have been successful in supporting schools and districts to revise their curricula and instruction to implement the Common Core. These efforts led to students engaging in richer and more cognitively demanding activities that involved applications, communication, and problem solving. As districts aligned curriculum and instruction to meet the expectations set by the new standards, the need to refine assessment practices arose. Some teachers found existing assessments and grading policies seriously undermined the new shifts in their mathematics programs and did not align with curriculum and instruction.

 
 

 

Solution

Callahan Consulting collaborated with OCDE to design and implement a series of full day workshops throughout the school year that were focused on assessment. School districts in Orange County sent teams of teachers and administrators to discuss the challenges and obstacles they were facing with regards to grading and assessment reform. The critical design of this series was to move beyond discussion and use the work time to make concrete changes to directly impact students from the participating schools and districts. To that end, teams brought their unit, semester, or benchmark exams to the workshops where they were analyzed and peer-reviewed under the guidance of the Callahan Consulting team. The revised assessments were then piloted in classrooms and the student work was brought to the next session to be analyzed and discussed. 

The key was to focus on the quality of evidence of students' mathematical accomplishments the assessments were collecting with regards to the new definition of mathematical rigor: a balance between applications, procedural fluency, and conceptual understanding.


 

Results

  • The majority of participating districts made concrete improvements to their assessments, and in some cases significant shifts were made.

  • Participating teachers appreciated the opportunity to make thoughtful and useful revisions to their assessments based on feedback they received from their peers, from students, and from the Callahan Consulting team.

  • All teams brought back resources and knowledge to inform and guide grading and assessment policy decisions at their respective sites.

 
 
Callahan Consulting has been instrumental in our county’s transition to the new state standards. His team’s expertise, accessibility, and collegiality has fostered a strong mathematical community committed to improving our students’ learning. Participants always leave wanting more!
— Vanessa Cerrahoglu / Mathematics Coordinator / Orange County Department of Education