News from the Eastern 2 Region
Sue Vohrer, Eastern 2 Regional Director
Winter 2017/2018

Thinking about….the assignment gap. Assignment gap? What is that? Most teachers view assignments as work given after a concept is taught. While this part of a lesson should be planned with as much care as the instructional portion of the lesson, it is usually the part of the lesson that receives the least amount of preparation. According to Laura Varlas in Assignments that Measure Up (ASCD, 2016) assignments (tasks that marry content knowledge, skills, and thinking strategies) are the evidence of student learning. Choosing assignments that do not reflect the rigor of the standards leads to a gap. "Experts call the difference between what the standards require and what a teacher assigns the assignment gap" (Varlas, 2016). In 2009, South Carolina performed a study on assignments given to 250,000 students and found that as the grade level advances, the assignments given to students fell more and more below the standards. In a study conducted by Education Trust, only 38% of assignments are on grade level. (Varlas, 2016)

"Kids can’t do any better than the assignments they are receive," says Keith Dysarz, Director of K-12 Practice for Education Trust Varlas, 2016). Since teachers tend to have different ideas on what is rigorous, collaborative planning is key to developing a shared understanding of what the standards require in a grade level and then creating assignments that reach that bar. Varlas suggests five criteria for effective assignments:

  • Focus on grade-level standards
  • Align to the learning goals of the lesson
  • Require higher-order thinking
  • Integrate writing
  • Set clear expectations for student performance

District and school leadership is key in making teacher collaboration a priority for the work of unpacking standards and designing assignments for the specific grade level standards. Dyserz recommends creating processes for distributed leadership with established protocols for collaborative practice in order for teachers to analyze student work and each other’s assignments in order to close the assignment gap. Closing that gap is a critical move in guiding students toward being college and career ready!
(Varlas, Laura. 2016. Education Update, ASCD)

News and Note

Are You Coming to the NCSM Conference? Don’t Wait to Register!
Leading Mathematics Into the Future
April 23-25, 2018 Washington DC

We Need You!

This conference is in our region which makes it very accessible for travel! Take advantage of the opportunity and be a volunteer!

Math Art for NCSM’s 50th Anniversary Celebration!

As we celebrate 50 years of NCSM, we are challenging you to challenge your students to create a piece of art to commemorate NCSM’s 50th Anniversary. You could write problems that end in 50, create equations that would graph or end in 50, draw pictures or diagrams that relate to this in some way. Be as creative as possible.

Don’t Miss the Excellent Conference Pre-Sessions

Two conference pre-sessions are offered: Math Coaches Enact Principles to Actions and Using Equity and Social Justice to Build Mathematics Leadership

Stay in Touch – Your Eastern Region 2 Team Leaders

We are so appreciative of having these dedicated team leaders working in your state! Feel free to contact them (or me!) if you need information or have questions.

Get Connected! Sign up for eNews, a brief and informative electronic communiqué, for anyone interested in receiving updates and tips about opportunities and resources.

Save the Date! Delaware Mathematics Coalition will host its annual spring one-day conference on April 28 in Dover, DE. More information to come!

Happy Spring!