Proficiency in algebra remains elusive for all too many students. What can be done to improve this situation? How can schools be helped to ensure that their students become proficient in algebra, and have the opportunities in higher education and the workplace that achievement in algebra affords?

To address these questions, The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA has received five yearsí worth of funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, for a program of experimental research in grades 6-8. This research will determine the effectiveness of a formative assessment strategy based on the learning of fundamental mathematical principles intended to support mastery of algebra.

The focus of the project is a formative assessment strategy comprising several components:
  • a series of high-quality assessments, taking no more than fifteen minutes to complete, to help teachers understand whether students are learning the fundamental mathematical principles underlying mastery in algebra (e.g., rational number equivalence)
  • guidance for teachers on interpreting and using assessment information
  • teacher professional development and instructional resources to help students who are having difficulty with the principles