Publications & Resources

Principals’ Views of Mathematics Standards, Frameworks, and Assessment in a Context of Reform

May 1998

Maryl Gearhart

The purpose of this study was to gather information on principals’ views regarding standards, frameworks, and assessment in mathematics. Based on surveys completed by 96 principals from 35 public school districts in Greater Los Angeles–each principal a past participant in events sponsored by the UCLA Principals’ Center–our findings reflect the views of principals interested in improving educational practice. With regard to standards and frameworks, the findings indicate that the principals’ schools were not currently building mathematics programs closely on existing standards and frameworks; however, these principals were prepared to support the future implementation of state and/or district mathematics standards in their schools, and they requested resources and assistance with implementation. The principals disagreed on the need for standards at the school level. With regard to testing, the principals were concerned that parents and students may not understand the results of norm-referenced tests and that norm-referenced tests are not aligned with their instructional programs in mathematics. The principals were likely to favor performance-based measures for program evaluation and reporting and for guiding instruction, and they requested resources and assistance for building teacher capacity with new assessments. However, a large minority of the principals favored the use of both forms of mathematics testing, and some principals favored norm-referenced testing. Thus, although these principals represented administrators engaged in school improvement, they differed in their views regarding accountability testing. The findings suggest that resolution among the views of administrators lies in the design of mathematics standards that embrace a breadth of knowledge and skill, together with the design of a coherent, standards-based assessment system that integrates multiple measures.

Gearhart, M. (1998). Principals’ views of mathematics standards, frameworks, and assessment in a context of reform (CSE Report 473). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).