Developing Principles for Mathematics Curriculum Design and Use in the Common Core Era

This project is developing principles for supporting middle school mathematics teachers' capacity to use curriculum resources to design instruction that addresses the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. These principles are intended for: (1) curriculum developers; (2) professional development designers, to help teachers better utilize curriculum materials with respect to the CCSSM; and (3) teachers, so that they can use curriculum resources to design instruction that addresses the CCSSM.

Award Number: 
1222359
Funding Period: 
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 to Sunday, July 31, 2016
Project Evaluator: 
Horizon Research
Full Description: 

This project is developing principles for supporting middle school mathematics teachers' capacity to use curriculum resources to design instruction that addresses the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). These principles are intended for: (1) curriculum developers to help in the design of curriculum materials; (2) professional development designers and local instructional leaders, to help teachers understand and better utilize curriculum materials with respect to the CCSSM; and (3) teachers, so that they can use curriculum resources to design instruction that addresses the CCSSM. The study addresses the following research questions:

1. What design features of materials support effective instructional design?

2. What teacher and district characteristics support effective instructional design?

3. How do teachers use materials to design instruction that addresses the new CCSSM?

4. What design practices lead to instruction that addresses the progressions and practices in the CCSSM?

A sample of teachers across grades 6 - 8 and their instructional leaders will be selected, up to a maximum of 72 teachers. The sample of teachers is purposefully diverse in terms of demographic, geographic, and curriculum contexts. The curricula include NSF-funded programs as well as commercially-developed programs. The ways teachers understand and access curriculum resources in fully digital environments as well as more conventional media will be studied. Partnering institutions include the University of Rochester, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, and Washington State University Tri-Cities.

The data collection includes surveys, assessments of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching, observations of teachers' use and enactment of curriculum materials, analyses of student text and associated teacher resource materials, and teacher logs. These data are used to test conjectures about: (1) how curriculum materials, particularly the teacher resources, can be better designed to help teachers productively design instruction, especially with regard to incorporating the mathematical practices in the CCSSM; and (2) how teachers can be better supported to understand and use curriculum resources. The project evaluation includes formative and summative components, providing information and assistance to ensure that the project addresses its stated goals and employs rigorous methodology. Multiple methods are being used to collect evaluation data, including observations, interviews, and document review.

The deliverables are aimed at audiences who can impact large numbers of teachers and students, such as curriculum developers, designers of professional development, and researchers. The deliverables include: (1) guidelines for curriculum developers that are intended to make curriculum resources more transparent and accessible; (2) guidelines for instructional leaders to support teachers to use curriculum materials to design instruction that addresses the rigorous features of the CCSSM, and (3) refined instruments for studying teachers' curricular practices.