Mathematics

MTSS Math Cohort Series Update – Task Analysis

by Jared Campbell

PaTTAN recently finished the first three days of the MTSS Math Cohort Series for elementary and middle schools. We want to thank our IU partners. As we continue on this journey with teams, we will continue to share highlights that stand out from trainings and on-site support.

The initial training focused on strengthening instruction and assessment practices within the core curriculum. The ideas of task analysis and error pattern analysis not only improve these areas, but also support improved mathematics content.
A task analysis is a step-by-step breakdown of a given procedure. This can include very specific steps or groups of general steps. For example, when developing a task analysis for the subtraction of two two-digit numbers, you could list the steps in detail:

1. Determine if the ones can be subtracted.
2. Borrow a ten, reduced the tens by 1, and increase the ones by 10 (if needed).
3. Find the difference of the ones, and write the difference in the ones’ place.
4. Find the difference of the tens, and write the difference in the tens’ place.

You could also task analyze the content to include larger concepts, as demonstrated below:
1. Regroup as needed.
2. Find the difference within each place value.
3. Write the digits in the correct location.

While each set of steps produce slightly different data for teacher use, both version allow the teacher to capture data on the steps related to the entire process. Using an error pattern analysis will then allow the teacher to use the data to determine the instruction needs of students, plan for future instruction, and differentiate supports based on students’ individual needs.
When identifying students’ errors patterns, teacher will find it valuable to have students think aloud during the process. The teacher could also ask students about individual problems after data has been collected, but you may find a loss in the integrity of the data if students forget what they were thinking at the time.

Developing a task analysis for important procedures in mathematics requires teachers to interpret the meaning of PA math standards and the demands of the district’s curriculum. Collecting student data using a task analysis allows teachers to perform an error pattern analysis, which will improve corrective feedback and future planning that includes differentiated supports. This one assessment practice can improve the content, instruction, and assessment practices within core instruction. It can also lead to developing additional supports within a tiered system.

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