ECU faculty helps shape statewide mathematics education framework

The framework for the future of mathematics education in North Carolina was recently established by a collection of mathematics educators around the state, including several representatives with ties to the East Carolina University College of Education.

Announced by the North Carolina Collaborative for Mathematics Learning (NC2ML) in February, the K-8 Instructional Frameworks are designed to connect and sequence mathematical ideas to enable teachers to plan learning opportunities for students that promote a coherent understanding of mathematics. Each framework contains sets of grade-level standards that are organized into clusters of connected mathematical concepts and a suggested sequence and approximate timeframe for each cluster. Important considerations about how mathematics concepts connect and the progression of students’ thinking were included.

The partners and participants in the North Carolina Collaborative for Mathematics Learning K-8 Instructional Frameworks project.

The partners and participants in the North Carolina Collaborative for Mathematics Learning K-8 Instructional Frameworks project.

ECU College of Education’s Katie Stein Schwartz, associate professor in mathematics education and co-principal investigator for NC2ML, served as the leader of the Kindergarten through 5th grade portion of the framework.

“The instructional frameworks organize mathematics standards to help districts and teachers pace out their year,” Schwartz said. “The notes about what students have learned in previous years and clusters, and what mathematics is on the horizon will help them with vertical planning and strategies for instruction.”

Schawrtz said Dr. Kay Middleton, ECU assistant professor of mathematics education, and Leigh Belford, ECU teaching instructor of mathematics education, were also involved in the project as well as numerous alumni.

“I am most excited about the amount of collaboration present in the creation and implementation of the frameworks,” Schwartz said. “Not only did ECU faculty and alumni serve on the writing team, even more gave feedback on different drafts.”

Pacing guides are a historic tool used by North Carolina educators to make sense of implementing content standards, yet research has shown that teachers under time pressure often adapt instruction by dropping conceptual-based activities in favor of more teacher-directed activities. The Instructional Frameworks attend to both the complexities of teaching and research-based knowledge of students’ mathematical thinking to support teachers in making sense of the standards, guide instructional decisions and attend to the needs of their students.

The Instructional Frameworks were co-designed over a six-month period in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Instruction, the Tools for Teachers project, numerous classroom teachers, school-based and district leaders, and higher education faculty across the state. During development, over 600 state educators provided feedback and suggestions that informed the final frameworks.