The Common Core State Standards: Comparisons of Access and Quality

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Nicholas H. Wasserman


Last year the United States unveiled the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English and Mathematics for grades K–12. In particular, the authors included two possible sequences of 8–12 mathematics courses that would fulfill the standards. Most notably, the courses titled “3a” and “3b” in these two sequences have become gatekeepers to Pre-Calculus (and consequentially Calculus). Taking “3b”would not prepare students to take Pre-Calculus, but at that juncture students would be prepared for a variety of other possibilities among mathematics courses—Statistics, Finance, Modeling, Linear Algebra, Discrete Mathematics, and Computer Science (those in “3a” would have access to all of these and Pre-Calculus). Employing Harvey & Knight’s analytic framework on educational quality, this article compares who has access to taking various high school mathematics courses in three countries: the U.S., Finland, and Singapore. Using the framework as a lens to discuss various statistics and different measures of quality, the new CCSS offer a relatively wide variety of courses for high school students, aiming to make the mathematics classes required useful to the students who take them, while simultaneously keeping options open for higher level mathematics.

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How to Cite
Wasserman, N. H. (2011). The Common Core State Standards: Comparisons of Access and Quality. Journal of Mathematics Education at Teachers College, 2(1).