Original Research

Mapping onto the mathematics curriculum – an opportunity for teachers to learn

Yael Shalem, Ingrid Sapire, Belinda Huntley
Pythagoras | Vol 34, No 1 | a195 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v34i1.195 | © 2013 Yael Shalem, Ingrid Sapire, Belinda Huntley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 September 2012 | Published: 22 May 2013

About the author(s)

Yael Shalem, School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Ingrid Sapire, School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Belinda Huntley, Mathematics Department, St John’s College, South Africa

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Curriculum mapping is a common practice amongst test designers but not amongst teachers. As part of the Data Informed Practice Improvement Project’s (DIPIP) attempt to de-fetishise accountability assessment, teachers were tasked to investigate the alignment of a large-scale assessment with the South African mathematics curriculum. About 50 mathematics teachers from Grade 3–9 worked in groups together with subject facilitators from the Gauteng Department of Education and a university postgraduate student or lecturer who acted as group leader. The first project activity, curriculum mapping, provided a professional development opportunity in which groups mapped mathematical assessment items to the assessment standards of the curriculum. The items were taken from three sources: the 2006 and 2007 International Competitions and Assessments for Schools tests and from ‘own tests’ developed by the groups in the last term of the project. Groups were required to analyse the knowledge base underlying test items and to reflect on what they teach in relation to what the curriculum intends them to teach. They used a protocol (mapping template) to record their responses. This article deals with the question of how to transform data collected from large- scale learner assessments into structured learning opportunities for teachers. The findings were that through the curriculum mapping activity, groups became more aware of what is intended by the curriculum and how this differs from what is enacted in their classes. The findings were also that the capacity of groups to align content was better when they worked with leaders and that with more experience they gained confidence in mapping test items against the curriculum and made better judgments in relation to curriculum alignment. Involving teachers in the interpretation of both public assessment data and data from their own classroom activities can build their own understanding of the knowledge base of test items and of the curriculum.


Curriculum mapping; item analysis; examined, intended and enacted curriculum


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