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Math Educators Release Common Core Standards Professional Development Recommendations

RESTON, Va., November 29, 2011—Support for teacher learning should be at the core of any professional development related to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), according to a set of recommendations from three prominent mathematics educators. The recently released report Supporting Implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Recommendations for Professional Development offers nine recommendations for professional development aimed at ensuring the effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

In developing their research-based recommendations, authors Paola Sztajn (North Carolina State University), Karen Marrongelle (Oregon University System), and Peg Smith (University of Pittsburgh)  built on shared, existing knowledge recognizing that effective professional development should (1) be intensive, ongoing, and connected to practice; (2) focus on student learning and address the teaching of specific content; (3) align with school improvement priorities and goals; and (4) build strong working relationships among teachers. The recommendations are intended to help districts and states in creating, sustaining, and assessing professional development systems that support practicing mathematics teachers in implementing CCSSM, ultimately enriching the learning of all K–12 students.

“These nine recommendations should be the foundation of any professional development program or plans to support the implementation of the Common Core Standards,” said author Paola Sztajn. “This new standards environment presents new challenges, and standards alone will not ensure success. Professional development for teachers is critically important.”

The nine recommendations for CCSSM-related professional development (CCSSM-PD) in the report are as follows:

  1. Emphasize the substance of CCSSM-PD
  2. Create and adapt materials for use in CCSSM-PD
  3. Design CCSSM-PD based on features that support teacher learning
  4. Build coherent programs of CCSSM-PD
  5. Prepare and use knowledgeable facilitators for CCSSM-PD
  6. Provide CCSSM-PD tailored to groups that play key roles, in addition to teachers
  7. Educate stakeholders about CCSSM
  8. Continuously assess CCSSM-PD
  9. Create CCSSM-PD consortia

Mike Shaughnessy, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and chair of the Mathematics Common Core Coalition, said, “The Common Core State Standards present a historic opportunity for mathematics education. For the standards to succeed and attain their full potential to help to educate all our students, high-quality professional development must be provided to all teachers. These recommendations should guide all those making any kind of professional development decision in any school, district, or education system.

The complete report and recommendations are online at

They were produced with the support of a National Science Foundation RAPID Grant (#1114933) titled “System-level Professional Development: Articulating Research Ideas that Support Implementation of Professional Development Needed for Making the CCSS for Mathematics Reality for K–12 Teachers.”

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is a public voice of mathematics education, providing vision, leadership, and professional development to support teachers in ensuring mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students. With more than 90,000 members and 230 Affiliates, NCTM is the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving mathematics education in prekindergarten through grade 12. The Council’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics includes guidelines for excellence in mathematics education and issues a call for all students to engage in more challenging mathematics. Its Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics identifies the most important mathematical topics for each grade level. Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making advocates practical changes to the high school mathematics curriculum to refocus learning on reasoning and sense making. NCTM is dedicated to ongoing dialogue and constructive discussion with all stakeholders about what is best for our nation’s students.

Media interested in arranging an interview with any of the three authors or NCTM President Mike Shaughnessy should contact: Gay Dillin, Media Relations Manager,, 703-620-9840, ext. 2189, or Andrea Elkin,, (703) 620-9840 ext.2198.

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