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Grand Valley receives grant to study 8th grade math curriculums

Posted on September 28, 2016

In 2010, a set of college- and career-ready standards were developed by state education chiefs and governors in 48 states. These standards for K-12 students focused on the areas of English language arts and mathematics.

Since the Common Core State Standards were adopted, various classroom materials have been created that supposedly align with these standards.

Grand Valley State University recently received $295,523 of a more than $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate which of these materials, if any, are truly effective in the classroom.

"Many researchers question the degree to which these materials are actually aligned with the Common Core State Standards," said Lisa Kasmer, associate professor of mathematics at Grand Valley. "It is important to understand how teachers use these materials, and the decisions they make to supplement them."

The three-year collaborative grant, titled "Investigating Middle Grades Mathematics Teachers' Curricular Reasoning," will fund research studying how 8th grade math teachers in Michigan, Nevada, Utah and Arkansas make curricular decisions and what factors influence those decisions. Grand Valley will work with research teams from the University of Arkansas, University of Nevada Las Vegas and Brigham Young University during the study.

"The curriculum materials teachers use to teach mathematics often determines what and how students learn," Kasmer said. "It is essential that all students have equitable learning opportunities, and providing teachers and students with quality materials will serve as a foundation to this learning."

Kasmer will serve as the principal investigator on the grant for Michigan. In this role, she will work with one undergraduate student and one graduate student from Grand Valley to collect and analyze the data from Michigan schools. She will also collaborate with principal investigators from the other institutions to develop interview and observation protocols, and analyze classroom frameworks.

For more information about the project, contact Kasmer at or (616) 331-2307.