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Moving Towards CCSS Math Instruction

**Schoenfeld, A. (2014, September 21). Common sense about the Common Core. Available at

This piece addresses frequently asked questions about the Common Core State Standards in mathematics (CCSSM). The author describes how the new standards hold potential for facilitating powerful instruction and developing mathematical thinking, as well as the politics around implementation that can keep (and have kept) this work from progressing. Schoenfeld clarifies that the standards are not intended to act as a curriculum, nor do they endorse a particular teaching method. He also cautions against “quick fixes” such as mimicking practices from other counties or relying heavily on technology, to resolve all implementation issues. Rather, preparation for and implementation of CCSSM demands a concerted, methodical effort in order to actualize the author’s vision of powerful math classrooms, where rigorous mathematics are made explicit and accessible for all students. The author asserts that educators in the United States have not received sufficient support and time to ensure this work is being executed well, which threatens their ability to achieve the high quality instruction required of CCSSM.

For instructional tools developed by Schoenfeld, visit

Schoenfeld, A. (2014, August 25). What makes for powerful classrooms, and how can we support teachers in creating them? [PowerPoint slides]. Presented to the California Office to Reform Education, Sacramento, CA. Available for members at this link.

Alan Schoenfeld used this PowerPoint presentation to introduce the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework to an August 2014 meeting of the California Office to Reform Education districts. The presentation outlines the framework’s five dimensions of mathematically powerful classrooms: (1) the mathematics; (2) cognitive demand; (3) access to mathematical content; (4) agency, authority, and identity; (5) and use of assessment. An example formative assessment task from the Mathematics Assessment Project further illustrates and defines each dimension of the framework. The slides then provide further detail on the five dimensions through a conversation guide intended for use as a professional development tool among teachers and coaches. Schoenfeld briefly describes his vision for the future of mathematics instruction and guidance on how educators can best leverage the framework and tools to improve classroom practice.

Heitin, L. (2014, November 10). Common Core redoes the math. Education Week, 34(12), s4. Available at

This article provides an overview of some of the confusion and pushback currently surrounding the CCSSM. The author argues that most people outside of education are learning about the CCSSM by word of mouth, resulting in misinformation and confusion. For example, many people think that the CCSSM is a new curriculum, when it is actually a set of benchmarks. Parents and educators alike are also concerned about the new, more rigorous, computer-based tests, and some groups fear perceived federal intrusion into schools. Finally, parents have expressed confusion and concern about shifts in instructional practice; the increased emphasis on methods of practice, use of academic language, and understanding mathematical concepts—rather than just memorizing formulae and procedures—introduce changes to teachers’ instruction that may make it look different than what parents are accustomed to. This article provides topics for school leaders to consider when discussing the CCSSM with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders.

Park, S., Hironaka, S., Carver, P. & Norstrum, L. (2013). Continuous improvement in education. Stanford, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Available at

This white paper provides an organizational analysis of three education-focused organizations engaged in continuous improvement in a systemic way. The authors highlight commonalities and distinctions among the organizations by classifying them according to three criteria: (1) instructional improvement at the classroom level, (2) system-wide improvement, and (3) collective impact. The analysis also identifies six common themes that the authors characterize as instrumental to the pursuit of continuous improvement: (1) leadership and strategy, (2) communication and engagement, (3) organizational infrastructure, (4) methodology, (5) data collection and analysis, and (6) capacity building. The authors suggest that entry points to continuous improvement are not mutually exclusive. Rather, continuous improvement can take place at all levels of the organizational structure in an interconnected way. The paper further argues that research and learning cycles in this process are iterative and gradual, and must maintain rigor, transparency, and thoughtfulness in the planning process.

**This document is considered a priority reading.