Curricular Change Agenda for Failure-Experienced Mathematics Students: Can Success-Promoting Assessment Make a Difference?

Document Type


Publication Date



The study reported in this paper addressed the question: Can a success promoting assessment schema (SPAS) be designed so as to have a positive impact on mathematics learning of failure-experienced students? Addressing the problem of the study is important because assessment of students' mathematics learning greatly impacts the way mathematics is taught and learned in schools (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1995). Learning mathematics is essential for one's functioning in today's society, and it is considered desirable that all students know and use mathematics (For Good Measure, 1992; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989). However, these goals are hard to achieve, especially for failure-experienced students, because present educational systems use assessment-determined successes and failures in mathematics as a "critical filter" for school and/or job placement (Dahan-Mizrachi, 1990; Symposium, 1991). Assessment is an emotionally loaded type of educational practice (Moore, 1985), which refers to the on-going interpretive process of identifying, producing, and applying information regarding the quality of students' learning (Nero, 1983). The interpretative process can be carried out in two ways: systematically or unplanned. In systematic assessment, the assessor defines some criteria against which the subject of assessment will be compared (i.e., measured), and intentionally seeks for representative data of that subject.