Interactions Among Instructional Practices, Curriculum and Student Achievement: The Case of Standards-Based High School Mathematics

by Daniel F. McCaffrey, Laura S. Hamilton, Brian M. Stecher, Stephen P. Klein, Delia Bugliari, Abby Robyn

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A number of recent efforts to improve mathematics instruction have focused on professional development activities designed to promote instruction that is consistent with professional standards such as those published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. This paper describes the results of a study investigating the degree to which teachers' use of instructional practices aligned with these reforms is related to improve student achievement, after controlling for student background characteristics and prior achievement. In particular, the authors focus on the effects of curriculum on the relationship between instructional practices and student outcomes. They collected data on tenth-grade students during the 1997-98 academic year. Some students were enrolled in integrated math courses designed to be consistent with the reforms, whereas others took the more traditional algebra and geometry sequence. Use of instructional practices were measured through a teacher questionnaire, and student achievement was measured using both the multiple-choice and open-ended components of the Stanford achievement tests. Use of standards-based or reform practices was unrelated to achievement in the more traditional algebra and geometry courses. These results suggest that changes to instructional practices may need to be coupled with changes in curriculum to realize effects on student achievement.

Originally published in: Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, v. 32, no. 5, November 2001, pp. 493-517.

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