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Mathematics Curriculum Systems: Models for Analysis of Curricular Innovation and Development


Defining challenging curriculum first requires an examination of what is meant by curriculum. This discussion of challenging curriculum is motivated by the evaluation of the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnership Program. Standards frameworks, textbooks, software and pedagogy are some aspects of curricula. The level of challenge of a curriculum is a locally-defined, qualitative characteristic that depends on the curriculum system. The structure of a curriculum system is proposed to investigate the purposes, representations, and conceptual systems inherent in models of curriculum that are part of mathematics teaching and learning initiatives. Three types of models are proposed: content- focused, pedagogically-focused, and learner-centered. The models draw on examples from the Math and Science Partnership portfolio and from other areas of the literature on mathematics curriculum.