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Alignment with Tests and Standards

State tests and frameworks

Correlations are available to show users how Think Math! aligns with state frameworks and national standards.

In an effort to assure compatibility with most frameworks and tests, the design process began by compiling and correlating eight sets of standards: the PSSM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000), and the state frameworks of California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. We designed to meet or exceed these standards at every grade level, and consulted other state frameworks (among them, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio) during the writing.

The overall design was for focused content. The primary organizing principle for lessons and chapters was to achieve coherent development of mathematical ideas and competence, but also to assure that whatever was needed for the high-stakes state testing occurred before the tests were to be administered. Shortly after the hundredth lesson (before March), the content required for that year's tests should have been learned well. See article on pacing for more about how the year accommodates students and teachers before and after state testing.

NCTM Focal Points

Before we even began designing Think Math!, we derived much of our model from a prior curriculum (Math Workshop) that was brilliantly focused, and very like what the Focal Points would eventually call for, long after we started our writing. That original model was also rich, not in all of the ways that PSSM called for, but exactly in that spirit. Second grade did addition and subtraction and place value, and bits of multiplication -- which was started in that grade so that it could be focal in later grades -- but did them in lots of different contexts, so that it didn’t feel like a year-long siege of adding-and-subtracting.

Because all of the state standards, backed up by the threat of their tests, require a lot of little parts (and the risk of becoming the mile-wide curriculum), what we ultimately published was less focused than what we started with, though only slightly so. We had to struggle to remain both deep and focused, but succeeded because the model from which we started showed how: we do what is focal for the grade throughout, and vary the way we do it in order to provide richness, and to meet state frameworks.

The Focal Points did not exist before we designed the curriculum, so the fact that we correspond so well with the Focal Points is a reflection of how both documents -- Focal Points and Think Math! -- grew from historical wisdom. The focal points listed in Focal Points are not new ideas; and those not-new ideas also informed the design of the original curriculum whose underlying model became the inspiration for Think Math!

Are we focused in exactly the way that Focal Points calls for? Yes. Are we as narrowed as Focal Points are sometimes interpreted as calling for? Not quite. Because if we were, students would fail their state tests.