The Role of Schooling in Perpetuating Educational Inequality: An International Perspective

In an article published in Education Researcher, researchers William Schmidt, Nathan Burroughs and Richard Houang (along with Pablo Zoido of the OECD) used 2012 PISA data to explore the relationship of content coverage (OTL) to SES (socio-economic status) inequality. They found that across 62 countries OTL (opportunity to learn) has a significant impact on mathematics literacy scores, and the low-income students are much less likely to be exposed to rigorous mathematical content. In OECD and non-OECD educational systems alike, educational systems appear to be exacerbating inequalities stemming from family background rather than ameliorating them.

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Textbook Navigator/Journal

The Textbook Navigator/Journal was developed as an integrated web-based tool that identified the Common Core Mathematics standards addressed in each lesson of the 34 mathematics textbook series catalogued. Using the Navigator, teachers were able to choose a standard and find the parts of the textbook that covered it or to identify which CC standards were addressed in specific lessons in their textbook. If the selected textbook did not have any lessons for a given CC standard, teachers were directed to free, online resources for lessons that did address that standard. This project is no longer active. To learn more about this project:

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)

Every three years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) administers the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, a worldwide assessment of 15-year-olds. Center for the Study of Curriculum Director William Schmidt is conducting research related to PISA as a Thomas J. Alexander Fellow.

8+1 Science

The 8+1 Science framework was developed as a new way to think about and teaching science, based on eight fundamental science concepts. The ‘plus One’ refers to inquiry, a fundamental part of science. 8+1 Science is not a new set of science standards. It supports basic concepts included in most sets of standards and can be implemented with existing curriculum, textbooks, and equipment. Through utilizing 8+1 Science in the classroom, students gain a deeper understanding of science and develop critical thinking skills as they apply what they are learning and make connections to the world around them. The project is ongoing.

Research Report: Towards Coherence in Science Instruction: A Framework for Science Literacy


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Mathematics Teaching in the 21st Century (MT21)

Mathematics Teaching in the 21st Century (MT21) was an international study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the preparation of middle school mathematics teachers in six countries. Participating countries were: Bulgaria, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States. The study was conceived as a follow up to the 1995 Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) which documented that countries with higher achievement have teachers who teach substantially different content than that of their less accomplished counterparts. Countries participating in the MT21 project represented a range of middle grades student achievement in large-scale international studies such as TIMSS or PISA. Project dates 2008-2011. This study served as a template for the TEDS-M study.

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U.S. Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (U.S. TEDS-M)

Michigan State University faculty members served as international- and U.S.-level principal investigators for the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M), a collaborative international effort to study the mathematics preparation of future primary and secondary teachers. Using nationally representative samples from at least 16 countries, TEDS-M aimed to tell us how teacher education policies, curricula and opportunities to learn lead to effective knowledge of mathematics for teaching. Involved in the U.S. were nearly 3,300 future teachers from over 80 public and private colleges and universities in 39 states.

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Promoting Rigorous Outcomes in Mathematics and Science Education (PROM/SE)

Promoting Rigorous Outcomes in Mathematics and Science Education (PROM/SE) was an effort to improve K-12 teaching and learning in mathematics and science. The project sought to answer how to successfully create and sustain change in student achievement on a large scale. PROM/SE collected a wealth of data from approximately 60 school districts in Michigan and Ohio, 7,000 teachers and 300,000 students, and then analyzed the relationship between curriculum, teacher training and knowledge, parental involvement, and student achievement. Funded by a $35 million grant from the National Science Foundation, PROM/SE was a collaboration of the Michigan State University Colleges of Education and Natural Science. Project dates 2003-2012.

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Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

Directed by William Schmidt and based at Michigan State University, the U.S. National Center oversaw participation of the United States in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Now known as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, TIMSS resulted from the American education community’s need for reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of our students compared to that of students in other countries.

TIMSS represents the most extensive investigation of mathematics and science education ever conducted. The study is sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement and funded in the U.S. by the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Education Statistics. Approximately 50 countries have participated in this comparative survey of education focusing upon 9-year-old students, 13-year-old students, and students in their last year of secondary schools. For the oldest students, TIMSS analyses considered three groups: a cross-section of all students completing their last year of secondary education, i.e., a “literacy” sample; mathematics specialists, i.e., those students studying or having studied calculus; and science specialists, those students studying or having studied physics.