Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 5: The Mathematics Curriculum

How Do Education Systems Support and Monitor Curriculum Implementation?

During the past decade, content-driven systemic school reform has emerged as a promising model for school improvement.(4) That is, curriculum frameworks establishing what students should know and be able to do provide a coherent direction for improving the quality of instruction. Teacher preparation, instructional materials, and other aspects of the system are then aligned to reflect the content of the frameworks in an integrated way to reinforce and sustain high-quality teaching and learning in schools and classrooms.

Education systems use different ways to achieve this desired connection between the intended and the implemented curriculum. The methods used by the TIMSS 1999 countries to monitor curriculum implementation are shown in Exhibit 5.4, and by states, districts, and consortia in Exhibits 5.5 through 5.7. For example, teachers can be trained in the content and pedagogical approaches specified in the curriculum guides. Another way to help ensure alignment is to develop instructional materials, including textbooks, instructional guides, and ministry notes, that are tailored to the curriculum. Systems can also monitor implementation of the intended curriculum by means of school inspection or audit.

Of the methods for supporting and monitoring curriculum implementation shown in Exhibit 5.4, 10 countries reported using all six, and a further 14 countries used five. Support for the national/regional mathematics curriculum as part of pre-service education was reported by 26 of the 38 countries. Nearly all countries (34) used in-service teacher education, and most countries (31) used mandated or recommended textbooks. Ministry notes and directives were used in 30 countries, as was a system of school inspection or audit.

States, districts, and consortia provided data on policies related to textbook selection, pedagogical guides, and accreditation. As shown in Exhibit 5.5, seven of the Benchmarking states reported that they do not select textbooks for use at the local level. The other six states issue a list of books from which districts can choose. Almost all districts and consortia reported that their state does not select textbooks, while three reported state involvement in textbook selection. Ten jurisdictions indicated that textbooks were chosen or recommended at the district level, and four that selection occurs at the school level or, in the consortia, at the school and district level depending on the district.

As shown in Exhibit 5.6, nine of the 13 Benchmarking states developed materials that included pedagogical guidance for instruction and implementation of the curriculum frameworks and standards. Twelve districts and consortia had at least state- or district-level guides to support curriculum implementation.

As shown in Exhibit 5.7, six of the participating states had accreditation systems, four of which included student performance on the state assessment in their accreditation review (Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Oregon). Two states without accreditation systems, Illinois and Texas, made periodic site visits to evaluate schools. Only one consortium, the Michigan Invitational Group, reported having an accreditation system at the state level. The Academy School District in Colorado reported that the state was in the process of implementing a system for 2001.

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4 O’Day, J.A. and Smith, M.S. (1993), “Systemic Reform and Educational Opportunity” in S.H. Fuhrman (ed.), Designing Coherent Education Policy: Improving the System, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

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TIMSS 1999 is a project of the International Study Center
Boston College, Lynch School of Education