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Big Ideas Math

As states now begin their transition to the Common Core State Standards, seven organizations have united to provide advice on issues related to the implementations of the mathematics curriculum and assessments.

Solve for x. While many of us first encountered this enigmatic instruction in high school, the last 20 years have seen a strong push to get students to take algebra in eighth grade or even before. Today, concerns about the economy highlight a familiar worry: American eighth-graders trailed their peers in five Asian countries on the 2007 TIMSS mathematics assessment, and American fourth-graders were outperformed by students from eight other countries, including England, Latvia and Kazakhstan.

In a major address on educational policy last March, President Barack Obama underscored his priorities for the pending reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. "We will end what has become a race to the bottom in our schools, and instead spur a race to the top by encouraging better standards and assessments," he promised. "This is an area where we're being outpaced by other nations. They are preparing their students not only for high school or college, but for a career. We are not."

81 percent of administrators said their districts were adequately teaching students about Internet safety, but just 51 percent of teachers said so. SOURCE: National Cyber Security Alliance and Microsoft





STEM—the catchy shorthand for "science, technology, engineering and mathematics"—has been part of the school improvement discussion for more than a decade, as educational leaders and policy makers have underscored the importance of these areas in preparing students for an internationally competitive, 21st-century economy.


At Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Fla., college readiness is a districtwide goal for all students. With a diverse mix of over 190,000 students, the nation's eighth-largest school district turned to the College Board for help.


Educators at Sweetwater High School in National City, Calif., found themselves in a bind a few years ago. The school had been designated a "Program Improvement" institution under the No Child Left Behind Act, so changes had to be made.



The average score for eighth-graders on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAE P) was the highest ever, but only 39 percent scored at or above the proficient level (Lee, Grigg, & Dion, 2007). Even fewer high school seniors (23 percent) were proficient (Grigg, Donahue, & Dion, 2007). “The sharp falloff in mathematics achievement in the U.S. begins as students reach late middle school, where, for more and more students, algebra course work begins,” the National Mathematics Advisory Panel said in 2008 in its final report.