by NCTM President J. Michael Shaughnessy
NCTM Summing Up, January 2012
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were released in 2010, a joint task force
representing NCTM, the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM),
the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), and the Association
of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) was appointed to make recommendations
to assist our respective members with the task of implementing and assessing
the new standards. One of the most important recommendations made by the joint
task force was the following:
Develop and launch a research agenda focused on the CCSS that includes
systematic study of the instantiation and implementation of the standards,
monitors the impact on instruction and student learning and informs revisions
of the CCSS.
During the past year, a team of experts from Horizon
Research, Inc. obtained funding from
the National Science Foundation to develop a framework and identify priority
areas for the field to conduct research on the implementation, effect, and
future revision of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM).
During the development of
that framework and research agenda, Horizon gathered input from a large pool of
mathematics educators, who reviewed the initial draft of the proposed research
priorities and assisted in verifying critical areas for research on the CCSSM. A number of reviewer recommendations and comments
were subsequently integrated into the final Horizon report, which was released
to the public in November 2011. The report, Priority Research Agenda for Understanding the
Influence of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Technical Report, was written by Daniel J. Heck, Iris R. Weiss, and Joan D. Pasley.
to read the report.
report first describes some general studies that should be conducted in
relation to CCSSM: (i) case studies that target systemic action taken by states
and districts; (ii) relational studies that research the conditions of
effectiveness for the implementation of CCSSM; and (iii) experimental studies
that investigate the effects of various interventions related to CCSSM. A list
of suggested research questions on CCSSM then follows with accompanying
discussion. Among the priority research questions in the report are the
- How are mathematics education systems responding to CCSSM?—e.g., What changes are occurring within
existing or new K–12 mathematics curriculum materials? What types of state
transition plans are emerging? How is collaboration occurring across
states on shared implementation and assessment strategies?
- What is happening for whom (schools, classrooms, and students) as a
result of CCSSM, and with what results?—Research studies designed to investigate a large, representative
sample of classrooms will be needed to address these priority questions.
- Are students who have experienced a faithful implementation of
CCSSM actually well prepared for college and career?—This has been one of the primary goals stated
from the beginning by the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and it
was the reason for the development of CCSSM in the first place.
Determining whether this goal has been achieved will require the design of
longitudinal studies and the creation and maintenance of large databases.
- How can CCSSM be improved?—Are the standards “right?” Studies that are designed to measure
the validity of the forthcoming student assessments will be needed. Secondary
analyses of assessment and achievement data, and studies that are co-conducted
by researchers and practitioners who are implementing CCSSM in their
classrooms will be critical to identifying standards or wording in
standards that might need to be changed or updated.
spring NCTM’s Research Agenda Report, Linking
Research and Practice (2010) re-iterated the Council’s longstanding
commitment to conducting research that links to classroom practice and that
involves mathematics practitioners as partners in research. If there was ever a
time in the history of mathematics education for our mathematics education
research community to step up to the plate and launch the types of research
efforts suggested in the recommendations of the Research Agenda Report, that
time is now!
Although the Common Core State Standards for
Mathematics may be bringing new opportunities for districts and states to work
together in unprecedented ways, they are also bringing new responsibilities,
especially to researchers, to craft studies that will objectively document—
- what is occurring across states with the
implementation of CCSSM;
- what students are, or are not, learning vis-à-vis the Common Core
implementation and assessment processes;
- what types of support, practice, and content enhancements teachers need as they
work to implement CCSSM in their schools; and
- what types of changes and mid-course corrections are needed in the initial
version of the Common Core Standards for Mathematics.
an objective critique and review of the Common Core Standards for Mathematics
is the responsibility of NCTM, its Affiliates, and the mathematics education
research community as a whole. We need studies that will document, analyze,
review, and critique the various components of CCSSM—the faithfulness of its
implementation, the validity and reliability of the forthcoming student
assessments, and whether the whole process does indeed better prepare students
for college and careers.
the mission of NCTM:
Council of Teachers of Mathematics is a public voice of mathematics education, supporting teachers to
ensure equitable mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students
through vision, leadership, professional development, and research.
In this era of the Common
Core State Standards for Mathematics, NCTM must take the lead in helping to
ensure that the research that is needed to inform teachers, administrators,
states, and the public about CCSSM is carried out thoughtfully and that the
results and findings are communicated openly and objectively.