Bostic earns $1.9 million NSF grant to study mathematics education standards, assessment

Jonathan-Bostic-web

By Kandace York

Mathematics proficiency is one of the pivotal skill sets that students learn. It’s also a skill set that is regularly tested, starting in elementary school and continuing through college.

That testing process, and the standards used to assess students, are critical to educational outcomes and learning paths. Dr. Jonathan Bostic, associate professor of mathematics education in the School of Teaching and Learning at Bowling Green State University, recently earned a $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore these standards and ensure that they accurately reflect students’ needs.

“Many tests are given to children and college students to measure their mathematical outcomes, and the results of these tests have implications,” Bostic said. “Through this grant we’re asking if those tests measure what we think they do.”

The grant’s full name is "Validity Evidence and Measurement in Mathematics Education," shortened to V-M2ED. The College of Education and Human Development’s portion of the funding is $553,990.

The goal is to help researchers, teacher educators and school districts identify and use the most appropriate assessment tools for their students’ needs. Assessing students’ mathematical outcomes with the most appropriate tools means that, eventually, teachers will be able to develop lesson plans and resources that accurately reflect those needs.

“I’m about spending time on teaching — not testing,” Bostic said.

A critical part of this process, Bostic said, involves working with colleagues and scholars in his own college. Researchers at the universities sharing the grant — Dr. Erin Krupa at North Carolina State University, Dr. Michele Carney at Boise State University, and Dr. Jeffrey Shih at University of Nevada Las Vegas — will work with their colleagues and scholars as well.

As the grant progresses, researchers will design and curate a website containing quantitative assessments used in mathematics education teaching and research. This includes seven topic areas:

  • Teacher education measures
  • Teacher education assessments
  • Elementary measures
  • Secondary measures
  • Undergraduate and graduate mathematics measures and assessments
  • Statistics education measures and assessments
  • K-12 surveys and assessments

The V-M2ED grant is the third that Bostic has earned through NSF; the previous two also addressed math education needs.

“We’re very thankful to our colleagues at BGSU, especially to Dr. Matthew Lavery, who is one of our synthesis leaders for this grant," Bostic said. "With NSF’s support, we’re able to approach this in a way that it will have broad impact.”

Although the project sounds daunting, Bostic laughed as he said, “We’re pretty ambitious and confident.”