Past President's Report - Summer 2011


Common Core State Standards Update
Diane J. Briars
Summer 2011

An NCSM priority is to help mathematics educators interpret and understand the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics and to support the development and implementation of comprehensive, coherent instruction, and assessment systems.

Our efforts include NCSM developed materials and resources, work undertaken in collaboration with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), and other organizations, and participating in conferences and other initiatives that promote shared understanding of the CCSS. The following is an update on the work of NCSM concerning CCSS activities and available resources.

Establishment of the Mathematics Common Core Coalition, MC3

NCSM, AMTE, ASSM, NCTM, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Governors Association (NGA), and the two CCSS assessment consortia, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) have established a coalition whose mission is to "strive to ensure the successful communication, interpretation, implementation, and assessment of the Common Core State Standards." This Mathematics Common Core Coalition (MC3) will:

  1. Provide a means to review, research, nurture and communicate common messages throughout the implementation and assessment of the CCSS;
  2. Include the expertise and advice of the mathematics education content and mathematics education assessment communities in the development and review of the items and instruments that are being developed by the two assessment consortia for the CCSS; and
  3. Collect information about the implementation and assessment processes of the CCSS that will inform future revisions of the CCSS.

One of the first MC3 activities will be to set up a website that will contain or link to the information and resources the eight organizations are providing about the CCSS.

Illustrating the Standards for Mathematical Practice

These ready-to-use professional development materials are designed to help teachers understand the Standards for Mathematical Practice and implement them in their classrooms. Each module supports a 1.5- to 3-hour session that focuses on one or two of the mathematical practices and is:

  1. Anchored by a high demand mathematics task
  2. Situated in classroom practice, with classroom video and/or samples of student work
  3. Presented in PowerPoint format with slide annotations on the Notes pages to support facilitation
  4. Designed to be used individually or in combination with other modules

Three modules are currently available on the NCSM Website:

  1. An Introduction to the Common Core State Standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice
  2. Reasoning and Unpacking Others' Reasoning for grades 4-6
  3. Modeling and Viable Arguments for grades 6-8

The Noyce Foundation's Inside Mathematics website provides the core resources for these materials. Valerie Mills, NCSM C1 Regional Director, and Sara Munshin, former NCSM W2 Regional Director, are leading this project.

CCSS Curriculum Materials Analysis Tools and Professional Development Materials

Led by Bill Bush, University of Louisville, and initiated at the request of Council of Chief State School Officers, this project is developing tools for assessing the potential of curriculum materials to support students' attainment of the CCSS, including the Standards for Mathematical Practice. The tools, and supporting professional development materials, will be disseminated by CCSSO and NCSM. This project is supported by the Brookhill Foundation and Texas Instruments, and the target release date is June, 2011.

NCSM Great Tasks for Mathematics

This project, led by Connie Schrock, former NCSM C2 Regional Director, and Richard Seitz, NCSM W1 Regional Director, is assembling a collection of tasks to support implementation of the CCSS. Many of these tasks are drawn from existing sources. Each task includes:

  1. Teacher Notes that provide an overview of the task, the Common Core State Standards Content and Practices standards that the task requires;
  2. an Activity Launch that addresses key prerequisite understandings and assesses student readiness for the task;
  3. the Core Task with which students are expected, individually and collaboratively, to wrestle; and
  4. suggested Extension Activities. The tasks will be posted on the NCSM Website as they become available.

NCSM Webinar Series

Two webinars hosted by Carnegie Learning, Inc. are now available:

  1. Getting Started with the Common Core State Standards: First Steps for Mathematics Education Leaders
  2. Deeper Dive Into the Common Core State Standards: Leading with the Mathematical Practice

Collaboration with NCSM, NCTM, ASSM, AMTE, and other organizations

In addition to the establishment of MC3, NCSM has collaborated with NCTM, ASSM, and AMTE in the following activities based on the priority recommendations from the Joint Task Force for CCSS of the four organizations.

Moving Forward Together: Curriculum and Assessment and CCSS (April 29-May 1, 2011). This NSF-funded conference, organized by Sol Garfunkel from COMAP, brought together mathematics curriculum developers, assessment experts, including representatives and stakeholders from the two assessment consortia (PARCC and SBAC), and national, state, and district mathematics education leaders to exchange information and resources so that CCSS assessments can draw upon the best work in mathematics curriculum and assessment. The goals of the conference were to coordinate the field's best guidance on assessment development and ensure new student assessments address the priorities (e.g., mathematical practices) articulated in the CCSS and initiate working partnerships between curriculum materials developers and assessment developers as they move forward in assessment and curriculum development. A conference summary including recommendations will be available on the NCSM Website shortly.

Articulating Research Ideas that Support the Implementation of the Professional Development Needed for Making the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics Reality for K-12 Teachers (May 12-13, 2011). This NSF-funded project directed by Karen Marrongelle (Portland State University), Margaret (Peg) Smith (University of Pittsburgh), and Paola Sztajn (North Carolina State University in Raleigh) brought together professional development experts with different perspectives (e.g., mathematics, mathematics education, professional development, educational policy, organizational theory, systems reform) to develop a research-based conceptual framework for the design, implementation, and assessment of large scale professional development systems consistent with the mathematics CCSS. In addition to the four mathematics education organizations, the Mathematical Association of America is a partner in this effort. The framework will be available on the NCSM Website.

Creating a Research Agenda for Studying the Influence of CCSS on the Mathematics Education System Nationally. Iris Weiss and Dan Heck, Horizon Research, Inc., have NSF funding to create such a research agenda. The project began by surveying various leaders of the CCSS development to identify their theories of action for how these standards might influence the system. Project staff and consultants with expertise in mathematics education and policy research identified indicators of the hypothesized influences, and sketched out alternative pathways for studying if/how the CCSS influence the mathematics education system in the U.S., and the impact of that permeation on student learning. The project was held May 25-26, 2011, to prioritize and flesh out potential research studies for examining influences of the CCSS (both in the short-term and long-term) in the three channels of influence that are the focus of the project:

  1. teacher preparation/development;
  2. curriculum; and
  3. assessment/accountability.

More information about this project is available here.

Advancing the Vision of High Quality Mathematics Education: Supporting Implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The CCSS is more likely to positively affect mathematics education nationally if it has coherent, common, and faithful interpretation and implementation across various states and districts.

To this end, NCSM, AMTE, ASSM, and NCTM are collaborating on this initiative, the goal of which is to work toward shared understandings of some critical messages in the CCSS and their implementation. The initiative will establish networks of leaders who can work together to respond to shared implementation issues and challenges. It has two primary foci:

  1. develop and disseminate a core set of resources (Toolkit) which consolidate and highlight key messages with regard to the CCSS for mathematics; and
  2. organize and host regional meetings of leadership teams to build capacity, review resources, and plan local strategies for utilizing the CCSS to elevate mathematics teaching and learning.

Funding is currently being sought.

Other CCSS Activities and Resources

The Mathematics Assessment Project (MAP). The Mathematics Assessment Project (MAP), developed by the Shell Center/MARS, University of Nottingham and University of California, Berkeley through funding from the Gates Foundation, is producing well-engineered formative and summative assessment tools to support U.S. schools in implementing the CCSS. These tools are designed to make knowledge and reasoning visible, and help teachers to guide students in how to improve, and monitor their progress. The following tools are currently available on the MAP website:

  1. 20 ready-to-use Lesson Units for Formative Assessment for high school, cross-referenced to CCSS content and practices standards. Ultimately, the site will contain 20 Lesson Units per grade for grades 7-12.
  2. Draft summative assessments, aimed at "College- and Career-Readiness," presented in two forms: 1) a Task Collection with each task cross-referenced to the CCSS; and 2) a set of Prototype Test Forms showing how the tasks might be assembled into balanced assessments. MAP is also developing Professional Development Modules to help teachers with the new pedagogical challenges that formative assessment presents. The first sets of materials are currently undergoing trials and will appear on the MAP site shortly. MAP materials, unless stated otherwise, are free to be downloaded for non-commercial use.

Gearing Up for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (April 1-3, 2011). This policy workshop, organized by the Institute for Mathematics Education, University of Arizona, convened representatives from state departments of education, school districts, the K-12 community, mathematicians, mathematics educators, professional development providers, and policy organizations to develop recommendations for the initial domains of professional development on the CCSS for Mathematics. Participants studied both K-8 and high school standards, including the Standards for Mathematical Practice. The conference report describing the recommendations is available.

Learning Trajectories in Mathematics: A Foundation for Standards, Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction. This new report from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) "builds on arguments published elsewhere to offer a working definition of the concept of learning trajectories in mathematics and to reflect on the intellectual status of the concept and its usefulness for policy and practice." It includes recommended next steps for research and development, and for policy.

Regional Reports
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