CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

Teachers' Use of Learning Trajectories in Analysis of Evidence and Instructional Response

This study, funded by The Spencer Foundation, focuses on how learning trajectory-oriented formative assessment can be used to provide teachers with greater understanding of student thinking and lead to more refined instructional responses to improve student performance in mathematics. The project includes both a learning experience for teachers and associated research study. The professional development component supports grades 3-5 teachers’ understanding of research-based learning trajectories in the examination of student work through both a standard professional development experience and a series of facilitated professional learning communities (PLCs).

The research component of the project is guided by the following questions:

  1. How do teachers make sense of learning trajectories and use them to interpret student work collaboratively with their colleagues in professional learning communities? How does the nature of their discussions change over time?
  2. How does the use of a learning trajectory-oriented formative assessment framework influence teachers’ interpretation of evidence of student thinking from student work and instructional decision making? What is the range and variation in teachers’ growth over time in their capacity to analyze student work and make instructional decisions and what factors moderate teachers’ growth trajectories?
  3. How does the learning trajectory-oriented framework influence teachers’ planned instructional responses and ongoing formative assessment practices in the classroom?

This is a mixed-methods study. Qualitative data will be collected from nine PLCs and 28 teachers in three schools over two years.  Quantitative methods will be used to model growth in teachers’ thinking over time, explore variation in growth across teachers, and identify factors that moderate growth. Comparison across different school contexts will further allow for exploration of how growth in teacher capacity and data-use practices varies and is shaped by school–level factors.

Project Team:
Caroline Ebby (PI), Jonathan Supovitz (Co-PI)

Start date: 
January 2014
End date: 
June 2016