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Incremental Shifts in Classroom Practice: Supporting Implementation of the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics

November 1, 2018

Teaching mathematics is complex work. Effectively implementing the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M) requires teachers to engage students in meaningful learning in which students make sense of mathematical ideas and representations, and communicate and reason mathematically. Teachers must also ensure that they are providing mathematical access to all of their students. Instead of expecting teachers to implement the large-scale changes called for in the CCSS-M overnight, change may be more likely and more sustainable if teachers are encouraged to shift their practice incrementally in a continuous improvement model (Star, 2016; Hiebert & Morris, 2012; Stigler & Hiebert, 2004).Accordingly, the expectation should be for small yet powerful changes that teachers can implement relatively easily in their instruction (Star, 2016). For example, teachers may initially implement manageable new ideas that make sense to them, such as:- Math talks to support students to conceptualize and represent operations- Structures and practices to support student-to student discourse in small group work- Counting objects to support students to sort, organize, and count by groups- Choral counting to engage students in reasoning, predicting, looking for patterns, and justifying things they notice in their counting.Incorporating any of the above changes can make small yet powerful differences in a classroom (Star, 2016), but it is the accumulation of these types of incremental shifts over time that will most likely result in the fullest implementation of the CCSS-M.

Bringing the Common Core State Standards to Life Through Site-Located Teacher Learning Structures

April 1, 2016

While all California school districts have invested deliberately in teacher professional learning opportunities with a common goal of improving Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSS-M) implementation, evidence from WestEd's work with the 10 Math in Common (MiC) school districts shows that districts' structures and strategies for implementing professional learning vary widely. Our data (gathered from interviews, grant reports, and other project documentation) point to some interesting and telling trends across the districts in relation to providing teachers with professional learning opportunities. First, we found that a majority of districts are making a shift toward the school site as the locus for teacher professional learning. Second, our data suggest a common shift toward professional learning that is more lesson-focused for teachers.These shifts across the MiC community toward site located, lesson-focused professional development likely signal districts' learnings about what it takes to support teachers' understanding and implementation of the CCSS-M in the classroom. This report explores these shifts further through four case studies that detail the approaches that several districts are taking to locate teacher learning at the site, and to tie learning to the specifics of developing lessons for classroom instruction.

Taking Stock of Common Core Math Implementation: Supporting Teachers to Shift Instruction: Insights from the Math in Common 2015 Baseline Survey of Teachers and Administrators

July 1, 2015

In spring 2015, WestEd administered surveys to understand the perspectives on Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M) implementation of teachers and administrators in eight California school districts participating in the Math in Common (MiC) initiative. From this survey effort, we were able to learn from over 1,000 respondents about some of the initial successes and challenges facing California educators attempting to put in place and support new -- and what some consider revolutionary -- ideas in U.S. mathematics education.

Classroom Observations: Documenting Shifts in Instruction for Districtwide Improvement

January 26, 2015

Even seemingly straightforward education policy ideas are interpreted and implemented quite differently as they make their way through the levels of the education system (Cohen, 1990; Cohen & Hill, 2001; Spillane, 2000). Complex ideas that lack clear and specific instructional guidance, like the Common Core State Standards in mathematics (CCSS-M) -- with their increased emphasis on rigorous and coherent content, standards for mathematical practice, and instructional pedagogies that support students' deep conceptual mathematics learning -- may prove challenging as teachers attempt to interpret and implement them in their own classrooms. The combination of limited instructional guidance for the CCSS-M and individual teacher variation (resulting from each teacher's different beliefs, skills, knowledge, and interests) leaves room for significant variation in how the central CCSS-M reform ideas are interpreted and implemented in the classroom. As such, there will likely be wide variation in teachers' instruction as they implement the CCSS-M in their classrooms.Yet if, as research has shown, teachers affect student achievement more than any other school-related factor (Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005), Math in Common districts will need to understand and monitor how CCSS-M ideas are taught in classrooms in order to improve mathematics education for all students. Understanding the extent of teachers' instructional variation will help districts build on and spread best practices and support improvement of CCSS-M implementation.