What Supports Do Teachers Need to Help Students Meet Common Core State Standards for Mathematics?

Findings from the American Teacher and American School Leader Panels

by Laura S. Hamilton, Julia H. Kaufman, Brian M. Stecher, Scott Naftel, Michael Robbins, Lindsey E. Thompson, Chandra Garber, Susannah Faxon-Mills, V. Darleen Opfer

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 7.0 or higher for the best experience.

Research Questions

  1. How prepared do teachers feel to address new mathematics standards in their instruction?
  2. What professional development opportunities do teachers think they need to help them implement standards effectively?
  3. What are the implications of these findings for state and district policymakers?

Mathematics teachers across the United States have been working to adjust their instruction in response to states' adoption of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and similar standards. This report documents the extent to which teachers are expected to address new mathematics standards in their instruction, teachers' familiarity with these standards, the professional development (PD) opportunities that teachers report receiving, and the PD opportunities they think they need to help them implement standards effectively. The report draws on February 2015 data from RAND's American Teacher Panel and American School Leader Panel — new survey tools that take the pulse of the nation's educators on key issues of education policy and practice through periodic surveys of a representative sample of teachers and principals across the United States. The authors conclude with a discussion of the data's implications for state and district policymakers. This report was updated in October 2016. The current version provides estimates based on updated weights for a small percentage of the respondents. Weights were updated to account for infrequent misclassification in the assignment of school-level characteristics.

Key Findings

Teacher's Self-Reported Capabilities and Needs for Support Regarding State Mathematics Standards

  • Most mathematics teachers reported familiarity with state mathematics standards, believed they were moderately or well prepared to help their students meet them, and had received opportunities for professional learning that addressed many topics relevant to standards implementation.
  • Relatively large proportions of teachers of science and social studies indicated that they were also expected to address mathematics standards in their instruction, but familiarity was lower among non-mathematics teachers than among mathematics teachers.
  • Among those who were expected to address mathematics standards, the highest-reported professional development needs included differentiation of instruction and complex, inquiry-based modes of instruction, such as problem-solving and argumentation.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Education and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For this document, different permissions for re-use apply. Please refer to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation section on our permissions page.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.