Curricular Coherence and Open Educational Resources
A Position of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
A coherent, well-articulated curriculum is an essential tool for guiding teacher collaboration, goal-setting, analysis of student thinking, and implementation. In a time when open educational resources are increasingly available, it is imperative that teachers be provided with curricular materials that clearly lay
out well-reasoned organizations of student learning progressions with regard to mathematical content and reasoning.
NCTM has long recognized the importance of coherence in a well-developed mathematics curriculum. Broadly stated, coherence means that connections are made from one year to the next, from one idea to another, from one representation to another, and from one statement to many others that are implied by that statement. There is coherence pedagogically, logically,
conceptually, in terms of learning science, and with the real world.
In an ideal situation, teachers have access to a high-quality curriculum that supports them to make informed choices about adapting and implementing tasks, and ample time for well-facilitated work with colleagues so that all students have access to the same high-quality tasks. Open education resources have an important
role in this ideal situation, providing teachers with resources to, for example, engage students in interesting or topical problems or applications, use technology in innovative ways, or bring in mathematics relating to students’ lived experiences.
The Curriculum Principle in Principles and
Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000 p. 14-16) states, “A curriculum is more than a collection of activities.” It further describes a well-articulated curriculum as both making clear the most important mathematics of the grade level, when concepts and skills are introduced and when they
should be mastered, and how student conceptual understanding of big ideas develops across units and across multiple grade levels.
Schools, districts, and publishers who provide high-quality curriculum and ample time and resources for teachers to collaborate with colleagues in well-facilitated professional learning communities (PLCs) help teachers implement consistent approaches in
the use of tools (technological and other), instructional strategies, assessment, and accessibility, as well as pay careful attention to lesson design to create a program that seamlessly integrates a wide array of components into a coherent whole that will help facilitate the development and
maintenance of a classroom culture with consistent student expectations.