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Comparing the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics to the Recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel

Comparing the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics to the Recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel

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Published by Achieve, Inc.
As educators and policymakers review the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics, they will want to consider the way these new standards compare to, and build on, existing standards in mathematics. This brief describes the comparison between the CCSS and the National Mathematics Advisory Panel's (NMAP) recommendations found in Foundation for Success.
As educators and policymakers review the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics, they will want to consider the way these new standards compare to, and build on, existing standards in mathematics. This brief describes the comparison between the CCSS and the National Mathematics Advisory Panel's (NMAP) recommendations found in Foundation for Success.

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Published by: Achieve, Inc. on Jul 28, 2010
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Comparing the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics tothe Recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel
Introduction
Through the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative, states and territories have collaborated in the developmento a common core o standards in English Language Arts and mathematics or grades kindergarten through twelve that arenow being adopted by states. Designed not only or the purpose o providing strong, shared expectations, the CommonCore State Standards will also allow adopting states to collectively create and share high-quality tools such as assessments,curricula, instructional materials (such as textbooks and sotware), and proessional development programs.As educators and policymakers review the CCSS in mathematics, they will want to consider the way these new standardscompare to, and build on, existing standards in mathematics. This brie describes the comparison between the CCSS andthe National Mathematics Advisory Panel’s (NMAP) recommendations ound in
Foundation or Success
.
Common Core State Standards in Mathematics
The K-5 standards provide students with a solid oundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division,ractions and decimals—which help young students build the oundation to apply more demanding math concepts andprocedures successully, and move into applications. They also provide detailed guidance to teachers on how to navigatetheir way through knotty topics such as ractions, negative numbers, and geometry, and do so by maintaining a continuousprogression rom grade to grade. Having built a strong oundation in K-5, students can move to more complex work ingeometry, algebra and probability and statistics in the middle grades to gain a rich preparation or high school mathematics.Students who have completed 7
th
grade and mastered the content and skills through the 7
th
grade will be well-preparedor algebra in grade 8. The high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways o thinking toreal world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically across the major strands omathematics, including number, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics. Note that the CCSS promote rigor not simplyby including advanced mathematical content, but by requiring a deep understanding o the content at each grade level, andproviding sucient ocus to make that possible.The CCSS in mathematics lay out a vision or what all students need to master to be ready or credit-bearing collegemathematics courses without remediation. Some o the high school standards are designated by a (+), indicating that theyare above the college- and career-ready requirement but necessary or students to take advanced mathematics coursesin high school such as calculus, advanced statistics, or discrete mathematics, and to be prepared or Science, Technology,Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) coursework in college.
Mathematics Content Recommendations by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel
The NMAP, a group o nationally-known mathematicians and experts on mathematics learning and education, wasormed by executive order in 2006 to examine the “best available scientic evidence” regarding mathematics educationand to make recommendations or its improvement. The Panel made a number o recommendations and identied“Benchmarks or the Critical Foundations” or progress in mathematics learning at each stage rom pre-school throughgrade 7, with a particular ocus on readiness or algebra and the major algebra topics all students should master. They alsoprovided recommendations or the “The Major Topics o School Algebra,” content which is normally ound in high schoolcoursework. As the NMAP recommendations do not ully describe content outside o that which is required to be preparedor and excel in algebra, a ull comparison between the NMAP’s recommendations and the CCSS is not possible. Yet giventhe evidence-based approach o the NMAP and their intense ocus on the content and skills that build the oundation orsuccess in algebra, there is great value in better understanding how the NMAP’s recommendations compare to the CommonCore State Standards.1
 
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Achieve’s Analysis
Achieve has analyzed the CCSS and NMAP’s recommendations to determine how they compare in terms o
rigor,coherence, and focus
.
Rigor
reers to the degree that sets o standards address key content that prepares students orsuccess beyond high school.
Coherence
reers to whether the standards refect a meaningul structure, revealing signicantrelationships among topics and suggest a logical progression o content and skills over the years.
Focus
reers to whetherthe standards suggest an appropriate balance in conceptual understanding, procedural skill, and problem solving with anemphasis on application and modeling; they should be teachable within a school year (or across our years o high school),and key ideas in a given grade or topic area should be clear. Standards that are rigorous, coherent, and ocused providebetter guidance to educators, students, and parents about desired learning outcomes than those that are not. Expertmathematics content analysts conducted a side-by-side comparison o the CCSS to the NMAP’s recommendations, lookingparticularly at the inclusion and treatment o mathematics topics at each grade level. This brie describes their ndings.
Major Findings
The CCSS and the NMAP’s recommendations describe similar levels o rigor. Minor dierences appear between thetwo documents in terms o when content is expected to be mastered.The CCSS are more coherent and ocused than the NMAP’s recommendations. The CCSS emphasize similar content,but provide clearer and more precise content expectations at each grade level and progressions o learning acrossthe grades.
Detailed Findings
Rigor 
Achieve’s analysis indicates that overall the documents are similarly rigorous, and describe substantially similar bodies oknowledge, though there are some noteworthy dierences between the CCSS and the NMAP’s recommendations.
Elementary grades:
In general, the CCSS and the NMAP recommend programs o comparable rigor throughgrade 4. Both expect students at the end o that grade to be able to add and subtract with whole numbers, andto understand place value and the meaning and uses o ractions. As a result, both documents lay out a similaroundation in the early grades.
Middle grades:
There are also substantial similarities in the middle grades. Both expect students at the end ograde 8 to be procient in all operations involving positive and negative integers, ractions, and decimals. They bothalso address the need or students to be able to solve problems involving percentages, ratios, and rates, as well asproportionality. The CCSS and NMAP also treat geometry and measurement in very similar ways, both expectingstudents to be able to analyze the properties o and solve problems involving a variety o shapes. While the CCSSmore ully describe this content, both documents require the mastery o content needed or advanced mathematicsin high school. A ew dierences exist as well, primarily in regards to sequencing. Some NMAP recommendations areaimed at earlier grades, but in most cases the dierence is only one year rom what the CCSS require. For example,the NMAP recommendations introduce the relationship between similar triangles and the slope o a line by theend o grade 7; the CCSS include this material in benchmarks or grade 8, along with complementary expectationsabout lines. By introducing this critical content at the same time, the CCSS create an environment where the contentis mutually reinorcing and will likely lead to a deeper understanding o lines and linear equations on the part ostudents.2
 
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High school:
The comparison between those CCSS’s required o all students to be college-and career-ready and theNMAP recommendations or algebra shows signicant similarity. Both require students to work with symbols andexpression linear equations; quadratic equations; and a variety o unctions including linear, quadratic, exponential,and trigonometric unctions. As a result, by the time students have mastered the knowledge and skills necessary orsuccess in entry-level, credit-bearing courses and 21
st
century careers in the CCSS, they will also have addressed thevast majority o content ound in the NMAP’s recommendations. Although the CCSS and the NMAP recommenda-tions include largely the same algebra-related content, the CCSS treat some o the content as expectations only orstudents intending to pursue urther study o mathematics and science, while the NMAP considers all its recom-mended algebra content to be essential or all students. Even so, the NMAP recommendations include only twotopics, permutations and combinations and the Fundamental Theorem o Algebra, or all students, which the CCSSdesignate with a (+).In short, the CCSS and the NMAP recommendations are very well aligned. The ew dierences between the CCSS and theNMAP recommendations or grades K-7 relate to the time at which students are expected to master particular content.Most importantly, though, nearly all o the K-7 NMAP recommendations are included in the K-7 progression o the CCSS. 
Coherence and Focus
The NMAP’s recommendations or grades K-7 emphasize the concepts and skills that are the oundation or successin algebra: number, geometry, and measurement. The CCSS also treat preparation or algebra as a critical goal orK-7 mathematics, and describe a very similar development o content or those grades. With respect to the Panel’srecommendations or high school, Achieve ound that the CCSS include the majority o the goals or algebra itsel in theirexpectations or all students’ high school mathematics learning. As such, policymakers can be assured that students whocomplete the content progressions in the CCSS will have increased their mathematical content knowledge in a ashionsimilar to the progression recommended by the NMAP.There are a ew specic dierences between the two documents that result in the CCSS providing greater utility to teachers.The CCSS explicitly describe the skills students are expected to know and concepts they are expected to understandor each grade level and usually establish links between understanding and skills. The NMAP recommendations ocuson outlining the content that is necessary preparation or algebra and in the study o algebra content itsel by theend o certain grade levels. Thus, the CCSS provide more specic guidance to educators in terms o grade-by-gradeinstruction.The CCSS more completely describe the content students should learn across all domains o mathematics. As aresult o its purposes, the NMAP recommendations do not ully describe content outside o that which is requiredor algebra, thus it is o little use when considering the breadth o mathematics content students must learnto be college- and career-ready such as geometry, probability and statistics, and modeling. The CCSS, however,clearly describe the expectations across all o these critical areas o learning, making it a more useul document toeducators.The CCSS describe content progressions across grades as well as the expectations themselves in each grade. Incontrast, and as a direct result o its design, the NMAP recommendations describe content to be mastered by theends o key grades, such as “By the end o Grade 3, students should be procient with the addition and subtractiono whole numbers.” As a result, progressions are not as clear as they are in the CCSS. By organizing content instrands that span several grades at a time, the CCSS more clearly describe how content is developed over time.In short, while the CCSS and the NMAP recommendations share some traits o coherence and ocus, the CCSS providemore precise and clear progressions, more complete descriptions o content across the discipline, and identiy contentstudents should learn at each grade, thereby providing greater support to teachers and students alike.3

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