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GVSU grant to study 8th grade math curriculums

chalk and chalkboard in an education classroom
Public domain image via Wikimedia
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Grand Valley State University was awarded a grant to study 8th grade math curriculums. 

Close to $300,000 of a more than $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation was given to GVSU.  It will be used to investigate whether materials used by teachers actually align with Common Core state standards. 

State education chiefs and governors in 48 states developed a set of college-and-career ready standards back in 2010.  The standards focused on areas of English language arts and mathematics. 

Since the Common Core Standards were adopted, various classroom materials have been created.  They’re supposed to align with those standards.  

Now, the National Science Foundation grant will investigate whether these materials are truly effective in the classroom.

“What we’re really looking at is that decision making process that teachers go through; we call it curricular reasoning. You know, when they see that either there’s a misalignment, or there’s a disparity in how the mathematics should be taught… then what do they do, do they choose other materials, do they modify the lesson?”

Lisa Kasmer, associate professor of mathematics at GVSU, is the principal investigator on the project for Michigan. She’s joined by colleagues in Nevada, Utah and Arkansas. 

Kasmer says the grant, titled 'Investigating Middle Grades Mathematics Teachers' Curricular Reasoning,' looks specifically at how 8th grade math teachers in the four states make curricular decisions.

“This is only a small piece of the problem, but getting teachers to think about when they do their planning to start questioning, does this actually align with the common core or whatever standards they have to teach to. Does this align, is it mathematically sound.”

Kasmer says this is a three year exploratory study and while she’s not exactly sure what they’ll find, they’re hoping to expand the study and bring attention to areas that need it. 

Their findings will be presented to the National Science Foundation, among others.

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