GE Foundation grant to fund MSU math study

MSU News, Aug 1 2012

An MSU education scholar will use a $1 million grant from the GE Foundation as he studies a major effort to improve math education -- the implementation of new common standards.

William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor in the College of Education, will expand his research on the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM).

William SchmidtKnown for his global research on math instruction, Schmidt forged a partnership with the two organizations that led the development of the standards, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governor’s Association. The common core standards were released in 2010 and have been adopted by 46 states.

Previously, Schmidt and his team conducted surveys of school district curriculum directors, teachers, parents and students in the states that had officially adopted the standards. They identified three potential impediments to the successful implementation of the Common Core: textbooks, teachers and leadership.

Schmidt said merely adopting more rigorous standards such as the Common Core will not likely change much unless the new standards are implemented appropriately. The research supported by the GE Foundation is designed to provide states, districts and teachers the tools they need to make the new standards a success.

One major challenge is that the most widely used textbooks are poorly aligned with the standards and there is little evidence that the right kind of textbooks will be released in the near future, placing a substantial burden on teachers and administrators to restructure their curricula.

Another challenge: most U.S. teachers have not had the background in mathematics from their teacher preparation programs to be able to effectively teach the more rigorous content included in the Common Core, especially during the middle grades.

The next phase of Schmidt’s research will include: continued development of a virtual system for textbook analysis and classroom common core implementation; a follow-up of the future teachers who participated in the survey project and are now teaching; surveys of district curriculum personnel, teachers, and parents about the Common Core; and the ongoing study of states’ implementation of the CCSSM.