Overview

The Texas Algebra Readiness (TX-AR) project is designed to be implemented within a Response to Intervention (RtI) framework. Components of the project include a series of formative assessments to support teachers' instructional decision-making and professional development modules focused on supporting students' algebra readiness. This project includes the Elementary School Students in Texas Algebra Ready (ESTAR) and Middle School Students in Texas Algebra Ready (MSTAR) universal screeners and diagnostic assessments. Professional development modules support teachers' and leaders' ability to interpret and use formative assessment results to make instructional changes to support student success. 

Funder

Texas Education Agency

Partner(s)

Education Service Center 13

Principal Investigator

Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller

Purpose

The Texas Algebra Ready Initiative was created to answer the widening gap of students failing to meet standards of proficiency in algebra. This initiative launched with professional development (PD) opportunities known as Academies, which were designed for intensely-focused and targeted PD to explicitly address topics found to best support teachers:

  • Data-driven instructional planning
  • Alignment of instruction to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)
  • Interventions for struggling students
  • Research-based strategies for English language learners (ELLs)
  • Integration of the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS)
  • Introduction to Project Share for ongoing online PD and creating communities of practice

During the 81st legislative session of the State of Texas, funding for fiscal year 2010 and 2011 was appropriated in Rider 42 specifically for Texas Math, Science, and Reading initiatives. The Middle School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (MSTAR) Universal Screener was a direct result of this funding.

TX-AR Academies were rolled out to thousands of teachers across the state of Texas to accomplish two overarching goals: (1) improve overall mathematics instruction, and (2) impact student achievement. Teachers began the fall semester with the tools embedded in the Academies, laying the groundwork and guiding the trajectory of the project as it moved into its next phase with the release of the MSTAR Universal Screener, launched in October 2010 and revised to align with the updated TEKS in 2013-14. Subsequently, the ESTAR Universal Screener was developed.

The TX-AR Universal Screeners are formative assessments that can be administered to all students in grades 2-8 to help teachers identify students who are on track and those who are at risk for not being ready for algebra, and the varying degrees of support students may need to be ready for algebra. The Universal Screeners designed to be given three times during the school year with fall, winter, and spring administrations, and to work in parallel (and not replace) other assessments.

 With the success of the Universal Screener, it became apparent that a deeper level of understanding as to why students in Tiers II and III are struggling with algebra readiness was necessary. Development work began on the TX-AR diagnostic assessments, using learning progressions as the content foundation. Unlike other frameworks for examining student learning, learning progressions include specific, operationalized learning performance indicators that articulate how students are likely to think, what they are likely to understand, know, and/or be able to do, and their likely misconceptions at different points along the developmental progression (Corcoran, Mosher, & Rogat, 2009).

By incorporating learning progressions into the TX-AR Diagnostic Assessments, teachers are given insight into much more than just whether a student answered an item correctly or incorrectly. Based on the answer selected, the teacher knows what underlying misconception informed the student to answer incorrectly. At this granular level, responses are mapped back to precisely where, on a learning progression, a student is struggling. And with this detailed insight, a teacher can modify his or her instruction to meet the needs of these struggling students.

Outcomes

We anticipate that implementing the TX-AR formative assessments and the accompanying professional development modules will support teachers’ and leaders’ instructional decision making within an RtI framework. The intended outcome is to improve students’ readiness for algebra in high school.

References

Corcoran, T., Mogat, F. A., & Rosher, A. (2009). Learning progressions in science: An evidence-based approach to reform (CPRE Research Report #RR-63). Philadelphia, PA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Philadelphia, PA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Perry, L., Ketterlin-Geller, L. R., Benson, S., Schielack, J., & Broadway, E. (2012). Supporting students’ algebra readiness: A response to intervention approach. Texas Mathematics Teacher, 59(2), 26-29. Available electronically at: http://www.tctmonline.org/TMT_archive/TMT_2010s/TMT_2012_Fall.pdf