Model Course Pathways in Mathematics

August 11, 2010 

The K-12 Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics and English Language Arts were developed through a state-led process managed by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  Achieve partnered with NGA and CCSSO on the Initiative.  

The CCSS for high school mathematics are organized by conceptual category (number and quantity, algebra, functions, geometry, modeling and probability and statistics). This was done purposefully, to allow states and districts maximum flexibility in deciding how best to organize their high school courses while still ensuring that all students have access to a mathematics course sequence that will culminate in being fully prepared in mathematics for college and careers. Still, the task of organizing standards into possible courses is a daunting one and during the development of the standards many states and districts expressed an interest in seeing models about how this task could be accomplished. To meet that need, Achieve (in partnership with the CCSS mathematics writing team) convened a group of experts to develop Model Course Pathways in Mathematics based on the Common Core State Standards.  

Four model course pathways were created, each of which is intended to significantly increase the coherence of high school mathematics courses:

  • A more traditional approach, with two algebra courses and a geometry course and data included in each;
  • An integrated approach, with three courses that each includes number, algebra, geometry, and data;
  • A “compacted” version of each pathway that begins in Grade 7 and allows students to study Calculus or other college level courses in high school.

In considering the pathways, there are several things important to note: 

  • The pathways and courses are models, not mandates. They illustrate possible approaches to organizing the content of the CCSS into coherent and rigorous courses that lead to college and career readiness. States and districts are not expected to adopt these courses as is; rather, they are encouraged to use these pathways and courses as a starting point for developing their own.
  • All college-and career-ready standards (those without a +) are found in each pathway. A few (+) standards are included to increase the coherence of a course.
  • The course descriptions delineate the mathematics standards to be covered in a course but they are not prescriptions for curriculum or pedagogy. Additional work will be needed to create coherent instructional programs that help students achieve these standards. 

The Model Course Pathways in Mathematics are published as Appendix A to the CCSS.