Math Standards Paper

Standards-Based Math Education by Design

Although the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) and similar state-specific math standards were adopted beginning in 2010, the United States has shown little improvement in students’ math achievement. The new standards were groundbreaking in their thoughtfulness and depth, however, still remain somewhat aspirational in their impact “on the ground” in classrooms.

This paper provides the framework for a Phase II of the mathematics standards to accelerate improvements in students’ learning and understanding in math. To do so, the paper advocates for the development of a system that catalogues, at the level of each math standard, all student learning activities and performance on math assignments, problem sets, projects, and formative assessments across grade levels and linked to the appropriate state standards. By enabling multi-grade, by-standard data analytics that can inform instruction, clear patterns will emerge, showing where attention is required.

The implementation of a detailed inventory of standards achievement by schools and districts would enable teachers to see which standards students have been taught, and which ones they have mastered. It also would enable teachers to refine their instructional strategy for each student and increase the likelihood that all students will achieve grade-level proficiency in math. These new standards are building blocks – if some are missing or weak, the structure breaks down in later grades.

A Phase II of the math standards, as described in this paper, would ensure the success of students and provide an equity monitoring framework for teachers and districts as envisioned in college and career readiness standards.