Standards-based School Mathematics Curricula: What Are They? What Do Students Learn?, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Standards-based School Mathematics Curricula

What Are They? What Do Students Learn?, 1st Edition

Edited by Sharon L. Senk, Denisse R. Thompson


536 pages

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The Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1989 set forth a broad vision of mathematical content and pedagogy for grades K-12 in the United States. These Standards prompted the development of Standards-based mathematics curricula. What features characterize Standards-based curricula? How well do such curricula work?

To answer these questions, the editors invited researchers who had investigated the implementation of 12 different Standards-based mathematics curricula to describe the effects of these curricula on students' learning and achievement, and to provide evidence for any claims they made. In particular, authors were asked to identify content on which performance of students using Standards-based materials differed from that of students using more traditional materials, and content on which performance of these two groups of students was virtually identical. Additionally, four scholars not involved with the development of any of the materials were invited to write critical commentaries on the work reported in the other chapters.

Section I of Standards-Based School Mathematics Curricula provides a historical background to place the current curriculum reform efforts in perspective, a summary of recent recommendations to reform school mathematics, and a discussion of issues that arise when conducting research on student outcomes. Sections II, III, and IV are devoted to research on mathematics curriculum projects for elementary, middle, and high schools, respectively. The final section is a commentary by Jeremy Kilpatrick, Regents Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Georgia, on the research reported in this book. It provides a historical perspective on the use of research to guide mathematics curriculum reform in schools, and makes additional recommendations for further research. In addition to the references provided at the end of each chapter, other references about the Standards-based curriculum projects are provided at the end of the book.

This volume is a valuable resource for all participants in discussions about school mathematics curricula--including professors and graduate students interested in mathematics education, curriculum development, program evaluation, or the history of education; educational policy makers; teachers; parents; principals and other school administrators. The editors hope that the large body of empirical evidence and the thoughtful discussion of educational values found in this book will enable readers to engage in informed civil discourse about the goals and methods of school mathematics curricula and related research.


"Standards-Based School Mathematics Curricula provides a comprehensive view of emerging research on standards-based curricula that is unique in its depth and rigor. To be included in the book, curriculum project evaluators had to have conducted research involving student achievement in mathemataics related to the use of the curriculum development project materials. Both the research conducted and the commentaries that discuss it are consistent with the NCTM Standards, focusing on reform-oriented content and processes, in addition to traditional arithmetic and algorithms…The book is very well written and organized in a way that provides the reader with the information necessary to make informed decisions about the studies of the standards-based curricula."

Horizon Research Inc.

"…is organized in a nicely symmetrical way. The editors…begin by summarizing issues related to math curriculum. The three major sections of the book address curriculum at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, with chapters on projects at each level followed by analysis and critique. The book concludes with a commentary…that pulls together all of the evaluation reports and critiques….Further research will provide more definitive answers, but this is encouraging news indeed about the future of mathematics education."

American School Board Journal

"If you are interested in mathematics education and in what the data have to say about student learning, pedagogical change, and standards-based cirricula, reading Standards-Based Schoool Mathematics Cirricula will be informative and interesting, maybe even fascinating. The book features a thought-provoking analysis of research about student achievement using data gathered by the 12 cirriculum development projects funded by the National Science Foundation."


"The book is valuable to all who are interested in improving mathematics instruction. This includes educational researchers, federal and state policy makers, and school administrators (such as board members, superintendents, principals, and curriculum coordinators)."

American Journal of Psychology

"…summarizes the formative research that has gone into funded mathematics curriculum development, mostly from NSF, over the past decade or so. An account of the evidence on student learning for the various projects is sorely needed, and given the hostile 'math wars' that are now going on, we need a scholarly presentation, not more harsh rhetoric. Senk and Thompson are first rate mathematics education scholars….I feel they can present the case better than most others….Standards-Based School Mathematics Curricula is a major contribution to the literature in mathematics education."

James W. Wilson

University of Georgia

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Part I: Introduction. S.L. Senk, D.R. Thompson, School Mathematics Curricula: Recommendations and Issues. Part II: Elementary Grades Curriculum Projects. D.R. Thompson, S.L. Senk, Elementary School Mathematics Curriculum Reform. A. Carter, J.S. Beissinger, A. Cirulis, M. Gartzman, C.R. Kelso, P. Wagreich, Student Learning and Achievement With Math Trailblazers. W.M. Carroll, A. Isaacs, Achievement of Students Using the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project's Everyday Mathematics. J. Mokros, Learning to Reason Numerically: The Impact of Investigations. V. Battistich, S. Alldredge, I. Tsuchida, Number Power: An Elementary School Program to Enhance Students' Mathematical and Social Development. R.T. Putnam, Commentary on Four Elementary Mathematics Curricula. Part III: Middle Grades Curriculum Projects. S.L. Senk, D.R. Thompson, Middle School Mathematics Curriculum Reform. J.E. Ridgway, J.S. Zawojewski, M.N. Hoover, D.V. Lambdin, Student Attainment in the Connected Mathematics Curriculum. T.A. Romberg, M.C. Shafer, Mathematics in Context (MiC)-- Preliminary Evidence About Student Outcomes. R. Billstein, J. Williamson, Middle Grades MATH Thematics: The STEM Project. M.F. Chappell, Keeping Mathematics Front and Center: Reaction to Middle-Grades Curriculum Projects Research. Part IV: High School Curriculum Projects. D.R. Thompson, S.L. Senk, High School Mathematics Curriculum Reform. H.L. Schoen, C.R. Hirsch, The Core-Plus Mathematics Project: Perspectives and Student Achievement. D. Cichon, J.G. Ellis, The Effects of MATH Connections on Student Achievement, Confidence, and Perception. N.L. Webb, The Impact of the Interactive Mathematics Program on Student Learning. J.W. Lott, J. Hirstein, G. Allinger, S. Walen, M. Burke, M. Lundin, T.A. Souhrada, D. Preble, Curriculum and Assessment in SIMMS Integrated Mathematics. S.L. Senk, Effects of the UCSMP Secondary School Curriculum on Students' Achievement. J. Swafford, Reaction to High School Curriculum Projects Research. Part V: Final Commentary. J. Kilpatrick, What Works?

About the Series

Studies in Mathematical Thinking and Learning Series

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Teaching Methods & Materials / Mathematics