According to our Instructional Rounds theory the task is an integral part of the Instructional Core. It is critical to student achievement. The seven key principles incorporate two important beliefs about the task.
#5. The task predicts performance.
# 6 The real accountability is in the tasks that students are asked to do.
In the book, "Visible Learning in Mathematics", Hattie et al ask teachers to examine each mathematical tasks and consider, " Was it difficult?" and "Was it complex?" Difficulty being the amount of effort or work one must put in; and complexity being the level of thinking, the number of steps or the abstractness of the task. Download an extract from this book here. hattie_reading_a.pdf
The School Leaders' Challenge
Stein et al, 2004 find that tasks with high cognitive demands are most difficult to implement well, and are often transformed into less demanding tasks during instruction.
Other authors argue that there should be productive struggle. "Valuable student growth and learning won't come from struggle alone. But giving students an opportunity to struggle through a difficult problem with a clear learning goal in, mind, combined with just enough stretch and assistance, students can develop lasting connections about important ideas, increased capacity for productive struggle, and durable skills for solving novel problems in life.
In our rounds' observations, we don't often see students presented with tasks incorporating higher level demands. Changing this situation is the school leaders' challenge.