SMARTER BALANCED READY: Big Idea #7

Transform Classroom Learning by Embracing Instructional Shifts

Increasing student performance under more rigorous standards requires deliberate shifts in instruction and curriculum. To learn what districts are doing to improve student performance, we interviewed five districts that observed student performance gains on 2017 math summative assessments. In these districts, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state performance standards increased in at least three grades. These districts shared their improvement efforts that they believe had the greatest impact on increasing scores. Each of these districts took on the challenges of implementing rigorous mathematics college- and career-ready standards by:

  • Learning the mathematical instructional shifts,
  • Helping staff fill in gaps in math content knowledge, and
  • Transforming classroom learning of mathematics.

The following themes emerged from these conversations:

These districts responded to the urgent need to help students learn math in a new way in response to implementation of rigorous college- and career-ready math standards. With updated policies, responsive curriculum, and informative results, these districts built a foundation for program implementation with aligned support for educators. Each element is necessary, but by itself, not sufficient, to accomplish the positive results described here. All elements work together to bring meaningful and sustainable improvement in student learning and achievement.