Whatever is worth teaching is worth evaluating. Multiple stakeholders have an interest in the results of the assessment of reasoning.
- Teachers need information about how their students think mathematically and explain their work, as well as what they can do and understand. This information is vital in planning for further learning: instruction is driven by evaluation of students' needs.
- Students need a good sense of their strengths and weaknesses in mathematics so that they appreciate and use good skills and know what to work on. Students will value what is assessed and they need to realise that reasoning is valued as highly as content knowledge.
- Parents want evidence that their children are progressing. As parents are very influential in what students value and practise, they need to understand the value of mathematical reasoning. They value what is assessed and reported on.
- State and national bodies are interested in mathematical achievement. Reasoning is a proficiency in the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics, and national and state-wide tests include items that allow reasoning capabilities to be identified.
If the aim is to evaluate reasoning, no single-number response can do this. Many of the strategies suggested in the Good Teaching part of this resource are useful for formative assessment of students' reasoning. Some other ways to assess and record mathematical reasoning relate to the types of tasks set.
Approaches taken to assessment can signal that reasoning is highly valued.
Designing tasks for assessing reasoning
Assessment tasks should be designed to provide evidence of students' abilities in reasoning.