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K-12 Math Initiatives

Math Initiatives GifThis section on Math Initiatives will link you to projects around the country that seek to improve mathematics instruction by addressing standards and technology issues.

 

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Call for a Coherent Math Curriculum

 

On February 6, 2003, the U.S. Department of Education launched its new Mathematics and Science Initiative, whose goals include to develop a major academic research base of what boosts student learning in mathematics and science, further engage the public, and enhance teacher knowledge.  Papers and Power Point presentations are available at http://www.ed.gov/inits/mathscience/summit.html Of particular interest were presentations by W. Schmidt of Michigan State University, and G. Whitehurst, Director of Institute of Education Sciences:

In A Coherent Curriculum: The Case for Mathematics, William Schmidt, Richard Houang, and Leland Cogan (2002) "define content standards and curricula to be coherent if they are articulated over time as a sequence of topics and performances that are logical and reflect, where appropriate, the sequential and hierarchical nature of the disciplinary content from which the subject matter derives" (p. 9).  In looking at the A+ composite for mathematics by topic and grade, data suggests three tiers (p. 6):

Man reading document on fire

HOT: September 12, 2006:  In response to the call for a more coherent curriculum, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics released Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence (NCTM, 2006a).  In its press release on September 12, 2006, NCTM indicated that this document identifies three important topics for mathematics at each grade level preK-8 and presents "a vision for the design of the next generation of state curriculum standards and state tests" (NCTM, 2006b, para. 3).

HOT:  March 13, 2008: The National Mathematics Advisory Panel, created by President George W. Bush in April 2006, released the results of its study to the President and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings on the best use of scientifically based research to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics.  The report, Foundations for Success: Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, contains 45 findings and recommendations for improving mathematics achievement for all U.S. students.  Its numerous topics include curricular content, learning processes, teachers and teacher education, instructional practices, instructional materials, assessments, and research policies and mechanisms.

Of particular relevance was the development of a list of major topics in school algebra (see p. 16) and the critical foundations in K-8 math education for algebra: whole numbers, fractions (including decimals, percents, and negative fractions), and aspects of geometry and measurement (see p. 17). "School algebra is a term chosen to encompass the full body of algebraic material that the Panel expects to be covered through high school, regardless of its organization into courses and levels. The Panel expects students to be able to proceed successfully at least through the content of Algebra II" (Executive Summary, p. xvii).

HOT:  June 1, 2009: Common Core State Standards Initiative: In its June 1 press release, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (2009) announced that 49 states and territories have joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  This initiative is "a state-led process to develop a common core of state standards in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. These standards will be research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills" (para. 3).  For updates and additional news on these standards, see http://www.corestandards.org/

HOT: October 6, 2009:  As a follow-up to its 2006 Curriculum Focal Points, NCTM released Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making, a "conceptual framework to guide the development of future publications and tools related to 9–12 mathematics curriculum and instruction."  It highlights reasoning opportunities in numbers and measurements, algebraic symbols, functions, geometry, statistics and probability (NCTM, 2009a).  In its press release NCTM stated that this book "suggests practical changes to the high school mathematics curriculum to refocus learning on reasoning and sense making. This shift is not a minor refinement but constitutes a substantial rethinking of the high school math curriculum" (NCTM, 2009b, para. 1).  Reasoning habits are organized into four broad categories: analyzing a problem, implementing a strategy, seeking and using connections, and reflecting on a solution (NCTM, 2009a, FAQs, p. 4).

HOT: June 2, 2010: The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers released the final form for a set of state-led education standards for K-12 English-language arts and mathematics, the Common Core State Standards.  Read the key points for mathematics at http://www.corestandards.org/resources/key-points-in-mathematics and the full set of standards for mathematics at http://www.corestandards.org/Math.

See ASCD's interactive map showing the Common Core Standards Adoption by State.

HOT: September 7, 2011: The Mathematics Common Core Coalition was formed to "ensure the successful communication, interpretation, implementation, and assessment of the Common Core State Standards" (Mission statement section).  There are eight member organizations providing their expertise and advise on issues.

HOT: November 9, 2011: The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) released its October 2011 Model Content Frameworks for Mathematics, Grades 3-11 to the public.

HOT: May 2012: From an announcement by Achieve.org, Common Core Math Standards Implementation Can Lead to Improved Student Achievement, we learn that "Dr. William Schmidt released key conclusions from his research detailing how the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics can potentially improve the performance of U.S. students if implemented appropriately" (para. 1).  Dr. Schmidt's work was entitled: Common Core State Standards Math: The Relationship Between High Standards, Systemic Implementation and Student Achievement.  "Unlike previous research, Schmidt analyzed the link between states with standards that were similar to the CCSS and their NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] math scores. He used cut scores aligned to NAEP as a proxy to determine if states were serious about high expectations and implementation of standards. The preliminary results showed states with standards in line with CCSS combined with higher cut scores also had higher NAEP scores" (para. 7).  A PowerPoint Presentation and video are available related to this research.

Read The Promise of the Common Core by Al Cuoco (2014, January 15) at the Habits of Mind Blog from the Education Development Center's Mathematical Practice Institute.

 

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Initiatives

 

Achieve: http://www.achieve.org/ Achieve is an advocate for Math Works: "Math Works materials—ranging from fact sheets, PowerPoint presentations, brochures and others—are resources for policymakers, advocates, educators, parents and students alike that highlight the connection between higher-level mathematics course-taking and college access and success, workplace and career readiness, and personal and U.S. competitiveness" (About Math Works section).

In other work of Achieve, "To help states work toward the rigorous high school math goals set forth by the American Diploma Project, Achieve has created a set of expectations that comprise the mathematical skills and knowledge that students will need to learn from kindergarten through 8th grade."  Foundations for Success, published in 2002, contains math expectations for the end of grade 8, which incorporates fundamentals that students are learning in top-performing countries.  It contains illustrative problems and sample solutions that focus on concepts, which are difficult to teach and need clarification.  Foundations for Success also notes topics for grades 1-5, and 9-11 in the appendices.

Achieve's American Diploma Project Assessment Consortium has posted practice tests and released test items from the recent end of course exams for Algebra I and Algebra II, respectively.  Achieve also has documents to help states, districts, and others to understand and then implement the Common Core State Standards.

Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative: http://www.amsti.org/ is the Alabama Department of Education’s initiative that began in 2002 to improve math and science teaching statewide.  Math is listed by K-8 grade level, and for algebra, geometry, and advanced math.  Read the results: Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative, released February 2012.  The study was conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences Regional Education Laboratory Southwest and focused on grades 4-8.

California Free Digital Textbook Initiative: http://www.clrn.org/fdti/ You will find a list of open-source books approved for use in California.  There are several publishers.  Among math texts meeting California standards are algebra II, calculus, trigonometry, and geometry.

Common Core State Standards Initiative: http://www.corestandards.org/ As described at the web site, the "Common Core State Standards Initiative is a joint effort by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in partnership with Achieve, ACT and the College Board. Governors and state commissioners of education from across the country committed to joining a state-led process to develop a common core of state standards in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12." These standards are research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills. Read the full set of standards for K-12 mathematics at http://www.corestandards.org/Math, which were released in their final form on June 2, 2010.

Note: Educators might appreciate the Common Core Video Series posted at EngageNY.org.  Although meant for New York educators, this 15-part series will provide valuable insights for all who have adopted the Common Core State Standards.  Educators and administrators will "learn step-by-step how to implement the Common Core for ELA/Literacy and Math in their schools and classrooms. You’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the rationale behind the Common Core and what it will mean for students ..." (EngageNY, Common Core Video Series, August 1, 2011, para. 1).  Also see: Education Northwest Common Core State Standards Mathematics Resources.

Idaho Math Initiative: http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/math/math_initiative.htm from the Idaho Department of Education "will focus on improving math education in all grades to ensure every student is prepared for higher levels of math in the middle grades, high school, post-secondary, and work-force setting."  The Idaho Math Initiative will offer professional development for teachers, assessment tools for all grades and research-based intervention programs for students.

Illustrative Mathematics Project: http://illustrativemathematics.org/ is a work in progress to produce illustrative tasks of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.  Sections address illustrations for the K-8 and High School standards.  The project is an initiative of the Institute for Mathematics & Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

IMAGES: Improving Measurement and Geometry in Elementary Schools: http://images.rbs.org/ is an initiative of the Pennsylvania State Team of the Mid-Atlantic Eisenhower Consortium for Mathematics and Science Education at Research for Better Schools.  This web site contains information and resources that are designed to help teachers develop a deeper understanding of geometry and measurement concepts and to assist in designing meaningful instruction for elementary students.

Mathematics Common Core Coalition: http://www.nctm.org/standards/mathcommoncore/ was formed to "ensure the successful communication, interpretation, implementation, and assessment of the Common Core State Standards" (Mission statement section).  There are eight member organizations providing their expertise and advise on issues.

Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center (MC3): http://www.mc3edsupport.org/community/weblinks/category-795-page-1.html has a list of STEM initiatives by state.  The center is "one of a national network of 21 federally funded centers designed to assist state education agencies (SEAs) increase capacity to provide sustained support to districts and schools as they implement the Elementary and Secondary Education Act" (About MC3 section).

National Math and Science Initiative: http://www.nms.org/ This initiative's mission is to improve student performance in the critical subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  It also includes Uteach (http://www.uteach.utexas.edu/) to recruit and prepare more math, science and computer science majors for careers in secondary teaching and Advanced Placement (AP) Strategies (http://www.apstrategies.org/).  You'll find free lessons and Common Core Open Resources within its Resource section.

National Science Foundation Standards-based Curriculum Projects are located at four centers:

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC): http://www.parcconline.org/ is a consortium of states working on developing assessments associated with the Common Core State Standards.

Project 2061 is the long-term initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to reform K-12 science, mathematics, and technology education nationwide. School districts will be most interested in the evaluation of middle school mathematics and science textbooks from leading publishers, which is available online.  The analysis is based on project standards and reveals the best texts for learning mathematics.  Read Benchmarks Online and associated research, and Blueprints for Reform, an examination of 12 aspects of a K-12 system.  These aspects are grouped into three parts: Foundation, School Context, and Support Structure.  Join the dialogue.

SIMMS Integrated Mathematics curriculum is a complete NCTM Standards-based mathematics curriculum for all students which incorporates a modeling approach using technology and involves real world contexts.  The SIMMS Project from the University of Montana at Bozeman: http://www.montana.edu/wwwsimms/ has been discussed in NCTM's Mathematics Teacher and ENC's Focus Magazine, and is one of the NSF funded projects.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC): http://www.smarterbalanced.org/ is a state-led consortium working on developing assessments associated with the Common Core State Standards.

Success for All Foundation (SFAF): http://www.successforall.net/  SFAF is a comprehensive school restructuring program for elementary schools in reading, writing, mathematics, and social studies.  It's mission is to raise achievement of students in those areas.  The curriculum can be found in about 1800 elementary schools in 48 states.  A middle school pilot project is also underway.

STEMconnector: http://www.stemconnector.org/ is your "one-stop shop for who's doing what in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math."  It is a "nationwide collaboration of companies, nonprofit associations and professional societies, STEM-related research & policy organizations, and academic institutions concerned about the plight of STEM education in the United States" (About section).  You'll also find state information, STEM projects and competitions, sections devoted to diversity, women/girls, national labs, and much more.

TERC: https://www.terc.edu/display/HOME/Home is a not-for-profit education research and development organization in Cambridge (MA), whose mission is to improve mathematics, science, and technology teaching and learning.  Work includes "research, curriculum and technology development, and implementation support in the form of professional development and assistance to districts and schools."

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth's James J. Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in Mathematics Education: http://www.kaputcenter.umassd.edu/ has an ongoing math initiative called SimCalc MathWorlds for TI-graphing calculators, computers, and the TI-Navigator.  The center also researches foundational issues in math education.

 

Check Out Your Own State Initiatives

Friendly reminder GifThere are numerous initiatives around the country in mathematics, STEM, and technology integration.

See what's happening in your state.  eClassroom News published An ed-tech initiative from each state (2013, September 13).

 

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References

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2006a). Curriculum focal points for prekindergarten through grade 8 mathematics: A quest for coherence.  Reston, VA: Author.  Retrieved from http://www.nctm.org/standards/content.aspx?id=270

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2006b, September 12). NCTM Releases Curriculum Focal Points to Focus Math Curricula. Reston, VA: NCTM News Release.  Retrieved from http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=686

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2009a). Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making.  Reston, VA: Author.  Retrieved from http://www.nctm.org/standards/content.aspx?id=23749

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2009b, October 6). NCTM Releases new landmark publication: Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making. Reston, VA: NCTM News Release.  Retrieved from http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=23876

National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers (2009, June 1). Forty-nine states and territories join common core state standards initiative.  Washington, DC: NGA Press Release.  Retrieved from http://www.nga.org/cms/home/news-room/news-releases/page_2009/col2-content/main-content-list/title_forty-nine-states-and-territories-join-common-core-standards-initiative.html

National Mathematics Advisory Panel (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.  Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/index.html

Schmidt, W., Houang, R., & Cogan, L. (2002, Summer).  A coherent curriculum: The case for mathematics. American Educator, 1-17.  Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/summer2002/curriculum.pdf

 

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