Summing Up Math Standards

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Science  21 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6114, pp. 1512-1513
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6114.1512-d

Are the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), which are about to be implemented in the United States, high-quality standards that are internationally competitive? Using data from standards of the highest-achieving nations on the 1995 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and all 50 state standards in place in 2008, Schmidt and Houang analyzed the focus, coherence, and rigor of the content defined by the CCSSM in an effort to predict their impact on student achievement. Comparison of CCSSM with the international standards revealed an almost 90% degree of consistency, suggesting that the CCSSM are focused, rigorous, and worthy of being world-class standards. When applied to state standards, the same analysis showed a wide variation, suggesting that implementation of the CCSSM will be easier for some states than others. Implementing the CCSSMM will be worth the effort, however, as further analysis revealed that states with existing standards most similar to the CCSSM had higher National Assessment of Educational Progress scores. Although the analyses from this study are an indication of correlation and not of causality, they do suggest that the CCSSM, once implemented, will improve the mathematics achievement of U.S. students.

Educational Researcher 41, 294 (2012).

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