Teacher Concerns and the Enacted Curriculum of the Common Core State Standards in High School Mathematics
Diletti, Jeri S.
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The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) highlight the importance of students’ conceptual understanding, mathematical reasoning, and problem solving in order to prepare students for college and careers. However, the success of this reform effort largely depends on how teachers actually design and implement instruction based on the goals of the new standards. In particular, teachers’ concerns about the reform have a significant effect on this change and the implementation of reform curricula. While there exists an increasing amount of research on reform efforts, many questions still remain regarding the implementation of the CCSSM and teachers’ concerns. The purpose of this qualitative dissertation study is to investigate the concerns teachers have regarding the implementation of the CCSSM and how those concerns relate to the enactment of their curricula. This study also explores how teachers address the mathematical shift of rigor defined in the CCSSM in connection with the tasks they use and types of questions they pose to their students. This research involved case studies of three Algebra 1 teachers. Each teacher was observed during three different lessons on linear/non-linear functions. Pre- and post-observation interviews were conducted both before and after each lesson was taught. In order to determine how teachers addressed the mathematical shift of rigor, three different analyses were conducted. Mathematical tasks in the teacher guided notes and lesson enactment were explored in conjunction with teacher questions and the use of the eight mathematical practices. Observations and interviews were used to examine how teacher concerns connect to their implementation of the CCSSM. In particular, cases based on the teacher interviews and videos were compared to one another to explore possible reasons why the teachers address the mathematical shift of rigor differently. Findings suggest a complicated relationship exists between teacher concerns and their intended and enacted curriculum. The results of this study showed that teachers at all stages of concern are not providing cognitively demanding lessons nor are they addressing the mathematical shift of rigor. Only during review lessons did two of the three teachers increase the cognitive demand of the tasks and questions they posed during the enactment of their curriculum. Regarding teacher concerns, different factors seem to take account for the complicated relationship between teacher concerns and their enacted curricula. First, the teacher with self concerns had a lack of content knowledge. This teacher was not able to adjust her intended curriculum, followed the textbook closely and had a difficult time addressing student misconceptions. The teacher with management concerns tended to express her students’ low abilities in doing mathematics. This teacher thus focused on student ability, only slightly modified the intended curriculum and provided only low cognitive demand tasks and questions. Finally, the teacher with impact concerns had a high interest in student learning. This teacher was able to alter her intended curriculum based on student questions and misconceptions. However, her tasks and questions remained at a low cognitive demand for two of the three lessons. This study has implications for curriculum developers and professional development providers, as well as teachers and school administrators to help ensure the success of reform curriculum.