Day by Day

Investigating Variation in Elementary Mathematics Instruction That Supports the Common Core

Published in: Educational Researcher, Volume 49, Issue 3, pages 176–187 (April 2020). doi: 10.3102/0013189X20909812

Posted on on May 15, 2020

by Jonathan Schweig, Julia H. Kaufman, V. Darleen Opfer

Read More

Access further information on this document at Educational Researcher

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) aim to engage students in complex mathematical practices, including modeling, reasoning, and argumentation. Currently, little is known about how teachers' daily instruction supports these practices. This study draws upon data from daily logs completed by third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade mathematics teachers from 39 states to learn about students' engagement in standards-aligned mathematical practices. We find that there are both substantial fluctuations in students' engagement in these practices and reported cognitive demand from day to day, as well as large differences across teachers. Practices in which students engage are related to teachers' perceptions of student ability. These findings offer a broad perspective on how CCSS-M–based instruction unfolds across a range of states and policy environments.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

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.