Mathematics Formative Assessment System| Testing the theory of action based on the results of a randomized field trial

by Mark LaVenia

Institution: The Florida State University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Mathematics education; Educational tests & measurements; Educational evaluation
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2067174
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10161262


The purpose of the current study was to test the theory of action hypothesized for the Mathematics Formative Assessment System (MFAS) based on results from a large-scale randomized field trial. Using a multilevel structural equation modeling analytic approach with multiple latent response variables decomposed across student, teacher, and school levels of clustering, the current study found evidence of effects of MFAS that were consistent with the MFAS theory of action. First, assignment to the treatment condition was associated with higher mean student mathematics performance and a higher prevalence of small group instruction compared to schools assigned to the control condition—both of which are outcomes hypothesized to result from MFAS use. Also, a positive association between teacher-level mathematics knowledge for teaching and student mathematics performance was found in the current study, which is consistent with the interrelation of constructs specified in the MFAS theory of action. However, evidence of the particular linkages of MFAS use→teacher knowledge→classroom practice→student mathematics performance and the putative cascade of effects that would substantiate the mechanisms of change posited in the MFAS theory of action were not detected in the current study. Thus, positive effects of MFAS on teacher and student outcomes were substantiated; however, as to how the effects of MFAS on teachers transfer to improved outcomes for students remains to be empirically demonstrated. Based on my review of the results from the current study and consideration of the literature on formative assessment as it relates to the design of MFAS tasks and rubrics, I discuss a proposed modification to the theory of action that specifies the addition of a direct path from MFAS use to student mathematics performance, in addition to the indirect path currently specified.