Frequently Asked Questions about the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM)

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the CCSSM? What is their purpose?
What are the mathematical practices? What do they look like?
How is the CCSS different from the NCTM standards?
How will the CCSS impact our state standards?
How will the CCSS impact NCLB and our state accountability tests?
What impact will the CCSS have on teacher preparation programs?
What do teachers need to know about CCSS?
What are AMTE and other professional organizations doing to address the CCSS?
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What is the CCSSM? What is their purpose?

The Common Core State Standards were developed as part of a state-led effort (48 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia) coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The mathematics standards were developed, sent out for extensive review, revised, and officially released in June 2010.

The mathematics standards (CCSS-M) were designed to prepare high school graduates to succeed in entry-level, credit bearing academic, mathematics college courses or workplace preparation programs. They include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills. The CCSS-M were informed by both current state and national standards (NCTM’s PPSM) as well as the standards of top performing countries.

In the year since their official release, numerous agencies have prepared materials to better inform teachers, administrators, and the public about the content and implementation of CCSS-M. Information about the original work can be found at
http://www.corestandards.org.

A search for Common Core State Standards will identify web sites that contain a variety of materials to assist in the understanding and implementation of the CCSS-M.

 

What are the mathematical practices? What do they look like?

As part of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, the authors included a list of eight practices that pervade doing mathematics at all grade levels. These are not pedagogical practices but are habits of mind that mathematicians use in their work. They describe an array of expertise that both students and teachers need to develop. These include thinking processes as well as dispositions that need to be developed to assure a deep understanding of mathematics. Those familiar with the NCTM process standards and the National Research Council’s report Adding It Up will recognize the origins of these ideas.

The Mathematical Practices are:

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • Model with mathematics.
  • Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • Attend to precision.
  • Look for and make use of structure.
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
  • The task for those teaching mathematics or developing mathematics curriculum is to include these practices in age-appropriate ways. As with the CCSS-M, there are many resources available on the web. Just search for CCSS Mathematical Practices.

 

How is the CCSS different from the NCTM standards?

Many programs have invested significant resources over the past decade or more in enacting the recommendations of the standards documents from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), such as Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, Curriculum Focal Points, and Focus in High School Mathematics. Fortunately, all that hard work will pay off.

The NCTM standard documents and the CCSS have a shared vision based on the need for a focused and coherent curriculum, a balance between mathematical understanding and procedural skills, and an emphasis on process skills (called Process Standards in the NCTM standards and Standards for Mathematical Practice in CCSS). The NCTM document, Making It Happen, published in 2010 further discusses the alignment between the two documents and ways that existing NCTM resources can be used to support CCSS.

While the documents share a vision, they do serve quitedifference purposes. The NCTM Standards put forth a broad vision for school mathematics, including many examples and advice for implementation, while CCSS provides a detailed set of grade-by-grade standards that can be immediately adopted as a state curriculum document. While 45 states have adopted CCSS as their state framework for mathematics, the NCTM standards continue to provide useful insights into what it takes to create a successful mathematics program.

 

How will the CCSS impact our state standards?

45 states have adopted the CCSS as their state mathematics standards. If your state adopted the CCSS, then it adopted 100% of those standards. However, your state may add up to 15% more to the standards. 

Even if your state has adopted CCSS, they will likely not go into effect immediately. Rather there is like a plan for transitioning to these new standards. Check with your state department of education for how the CCSS standards will be phased in and for comparisons between your current state standards and the CCSS-M. 

http://www.isbe.net/common_core/pdf/nclb_pres_beltchenko_ilscc_parcc.pdf

If your state adopted the CCSS, then it adopted 100% of those standards. However, your state may add up to 15% more to the standards. 
http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/policy-priorities/vol16/issue4/full/Coming-to-Terms-with-Common-Core-Standards.aspx

 

How will the CCSS impact NCLB and our state accountability tests?  

If your state has adopted the CCSS, then it will need to transition to a new assessment system that aligns with the CCSS in order to meet the accountability requirements of NCLB. [more information on that?]

States are working collaboratively to meet this challenge. As the Mathematics Common Core Coalition reports:
"A means of assessment is being developed to accompany the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Two assessment coalitions, Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter-Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), have obtained federal grants to develop assessment tools and presented drafts of these tools at a recent conference. The PARCC and SBAC presentations are both available on the NCTM website.

Some states are part of a CCSSO Accountability Systems and Reporting:
"Accountability Systems and Reporting (ASR) works to identify and share strategies that improve the reliability and validity of school accountability models, data 
and decisions. The ASR SCASS assisted state planning for accountability systems that met requirements for determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) of 
schools and districts. ASR continues to work on issues associated with growth models and data quality, with a focus on Race to the Top (RTTT) and common 
core state standards. ASR is releasing a series of papers on transitions focusing on growth models. "
From http://events.ccsso.org/scass/rfi/pdfs/ASR.pdf

However, note that states are not required to participate in either of the assessment consortia, or in fact in the CCSS at all. As the Common Core State Standards Initiative states,
"The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state‐led effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind and adoption of the Standards is in no way mandatory."
http://www.corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions

"While some national professional or educational policy organizations have published suggested standards and curricula, there are no federally sanctioned national standards for any academic area.  Instead, standards are set at the state level.  Although The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), reauthorized as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all states develop rigorous standards for academic subjects, it is left to the states to create the standards.  Curricula are developed at the state and local level."
According to the US Department of Education

 

What impact will the CCSS have on teacher preparation programs?
Pending

 

What do teachers need to know about CCSS?
Pending

 

What are AMTE and other professional organizations doing to address the CCSS?

AMTE has been active in its support of CCSS. Immediately upon the release of the document, AMTE, along with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), and the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM) released a joint statement supporting the implementation of the standards.

These organizations, along with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Governors Association (NGA), the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) have formed the Mathematics Common Core Coalition (MCCC). The MCCC “strives to ensure the successful communication, interpretation, implementation, and assessment of the Common Core State Standards."

AMTE is also working to address the particular needs of its members and the field. An AMTE Task Force focused on supporting implementation of CCSSM is currently working to address the following charge: (a) Identify activities, materials and resources needed by AMTE members related to CCSS-M as they work with pre- and inservice teachers. (b) Prepare sample materials and identify others to be commissioned based on the needs of AMTE members. (c) Identify and compile existing resources related to implementation and critique of the CCSS-M. AMTE Connections has articles addressing the CCSS (for example, see the President’s Message in the Fall 2011 Issue. Many sessions at the AMTE conference in February 9-11, 2012 will address CCSS [http://amte.net/conferences/conf2012]. The CCSS presents a unique opportunity for collaborative work across the states, and AMTE is working to capitalize on this opportunity.

 

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Connections

Timely, important updates for mathematics teacher educators.

In the Fall 2021 issue, AMTE’s President shares ways our community can find inspiration from perspectives in children’s books. Also included are articles focusing on reshaping assessment practices in a methods course, developing prospective teachers’ understandings of mathematics as a human endeavor, using local data to improve outcomes on licensure exams, and implementing a community-centered approach in methods courses. Information is provided on the upcoming AMTE Conference, so be sure to check out the approaching registration deadlines. You will also find updates from AMTE’s journals, Equity and Technology Committees, STaR program, and Affiliates, along with other important happenings. 

Susan Swars Auslander, Connections Editor