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membership (Stoll, et al., 2006). Embracing these essential features requires a systematic process in which teachers work together to analyze and improve their instructional process to promote professional development (DuFour, 2004).

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment can be best described as “assessment for learning” as opposed to “assessment of learning.” According to Learning and Teaching Scotland (2009), assess- ment should be an integral part of teaching that helps guide instructional practice. Their Assessment Reform Group (2007) has identified Ten Principles of Assessment for Learning, including focusing on how students learn and not simply on what students have learned. Tomlinson (2007) advocates the use of a similar type of assessment to improve instruction, emphasizing that assessment should be about more than grading students after instruction, serving an ongoing role in both curriculum and instruction. Black and Wiliam (1998, 140) acknowledge that, while teachers regularly gather evidence of student learning through daily classroom practice, it is not until such evidence “is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs” that it can be considered formative assessment.

Montgomery County Public Schools and Price’s Fork Elementary

Located in the Appalachian region of Southwest Virginia, Montgomery County Public Schools serves approximately 9,700 students in 22 schools. Montgomery County is com- prised of a number of diverse and distinct communities, each with its own cultural and eco- nomic characteristics. The Price’s Fork community is a close-knit, rural community with a coal mining heritage. The community’s stability is notable - many current students represent the second or third generation of their families to attend Price’s Fork Elementary School (PFES). PFES serves approximately 200 students in grades pK-5.

Project Purpose and Design

The implementation of this year-long, multi-grade mathematics lesson study had two goals. The first was to promote the formation of a school-based professional development learn- ing community focused on improving the teaching and learning of mathematics. The second goal was to increase teachers’ awareness of the value of using formative assessment to gain insight regarding their students’ instructional needs. Grant funds were used to purchase lesson study resource materials, to provide for substitute teachers to create release time for participating teachers, and to acquire the services of a consultant to assist with the design of the lesson study.

The PFES lesson study team consisted of eight members, including both of the school’s third grade teachers, both fourth grade teachers, a special education teacher, a gifted education

Virginia Educational Leadership

Vol. 7 No. 1

Spring 2010

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