Common Core Math Standards Implementation May Lead to Improved Student Achievement

According to a new study, Common Core State Standards Math: The Relationship Between High Standards, Systemic Implementation and Student Achievement, the CCSS for mathematics strongly resemble the standards of the highest-achieving nations. They have more focus, coherence and rigor than most of the state standards they replaced. The study also found states with standards most like the CCSS for mathematics have higher scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), demonstrating that standards – and implementing them well – matter. According to Dr. William Schmidt’s research, 33% of all eighth grade students in the United States are performing below proficiency in mathematics compared to only 13% of the world’s top five performing countries.

Schmidt used existing research on international mathematics standards that identified the key characteristics possessed by the world's top performing "A+" countries. Research on the standards of the "A+" countries, whose eighth graders performed at the top of the international distribution, indicated three key features of strong mathematics standards: focus, coherence, and rigor. A statistical analysis of the CCSS for mathematics found a 90% overlap between the CCSS and the "A+" standards.

Furthermore, Schmidt's research reviewed all 50 states' previous math standards and compared them to the focus and coherence found in the CCSS for mathematics. The statistical comparison reveals that most state standards were less coherent or less focused than the CCSS, and in some cases, much less so. On average, states required 3-6 additional mathematics topics in earlier grades over that suggested by the CCSS for mathematics, leading to the often referred to "mile wide, inch deep" character of mathematics education prior to 2009.

Unlike previous research, Schmidt analyzed the link between states with standards that were similar to the CCSS and their NAEP math scores. He used cut scores aligned to NAEP as a proxy to determine if states were serious about high expectations and implementation of standards. The preliminary results showed states with standards in line with CCSS combined with higher cut scores also had higher NAEP scores.

Dr. Schmidt's PowerPoint can be viewed at Related article
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