Reforming teaching, learning and assessment of mathematics : middle primary school students' and teachers' perspectives : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education in Mathematics Education at Massey University, New Zealand

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All students can learn mathematics to a proficient level when the mathematics curriculum is designed with equity and discourse in mind. It is through teacher actions that every student can engage in collaborative mathematical discourse using a range of mathematical practices as an essential component for sensemaking. Denying groups of students, access to more demanding and rigorous work at the primary school level as a result of ability grouping and a heavy focus on procedural teaching is contributing to uneven and inequitable outcomes for many students. In order to engage primary aged students in mathematics that focuses on developing skills in argumentation needed at the secondary level, value needs to be given to the quality of mathematical thinking and opportunities for talking as a means for sense making. In recent times, efforts to make significant changes to the pedagogy of mathematics both in New Zealand and internationally have focused on reforming instructional practice to include the explicit teaching and learning of mathematical practices through a socio-cultural context. Within a collaborative mathematics community, developing skills is experienced through an inquiry approach. By explicitly teaching students how to engage with respectful exchanges of ideas, the normal way of how students operate in mathematics class is disrupted. As a result, all students are afforded opportunities to access rich learning tasks. Central to developing shifts in mathematics classrooms is the assumption that mathematics reform undertaken without also reforming mathematics assessment appears unlikely to succeed. International researchers highlight studies showing that assessment is the engine of curriculum reform, or the principal impediment. This study offers a glimpse inside a Years Five and Six New Zealand classroom through the perceptions and actions of both students and teachers as they embarked on a journey to learn and teach mathematics equitably. Under consideration is the inclusion of mathematical practices, teacher pedagogical actions and the key role assessment plays in implementing change. A classroom based qualitative research approach involving a teaching experiment approach was used to support a collaborative teacher-researcher partnership. Throughout terms three and four 2019, data collected from one-to-one student interviews, classroom observations and teacher focus group discussions was coded, analysed, and triangulated. Three salient themes emerged from the data: teacher actions that promoted mathematical and discursive practices, changes in student views on the mathematical learning process and the role of assessment in a reform classroom. Students identified teachers’ actions such as facilitating group norms to support group work a key factor in expanding their thinking about what success looks like in mathematics. Initial attempts at including assessment of mathematical practices as well as content helped students and teachers to reflect on mathematical practices as well as content as part of the learning process in mathematics. In addition, assessment was found to alter attempts to reform mathematical instructional focus.