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Mathematics Framework FAQs

Information and frequently asked questions about the draft Mathematics Framework.

Updated June 17, 2021

When will the 2021 revisions of the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools be finalized?

During the meeting of the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) held on May 19 and 20, 2021, the IQC reviewed public comments from the first 60-day public comment period ending on April 8, 2021. The IQC discussed and approved recommended edits to the draft and took action to recommend the Mathematics Framework to the State Board of Education, following the completion of the edits and another 60-day public comment period.

The Mathematics Framework is scheduled to go before the State Board of Education for adoption in November. We anticipate a delay in the release of the second 60-day public comment period, scheduled for June. Once a new timeline has been established, it will be posted on our website at 2021 Mathematics Framework Revision Timeline. To stay up-to-date, please join the Math Listserv. Send a "blank" email message to join-math-framework-revision@mlist.cde.ca.gov.

What did the IQC recommend for edits to the Framework at their May 2021 Meeting?

The 2021 Mathematics Framework revisions are meant to address ways curriculum can meet the needs of as many students as possible, making math more accessible, and to provide research and guidance so schools can make the best local decisions that provide options and improve math outcomes for all students.

The IQC met in May, following a 60-day public comment period. At the meeting, the IQC considered and made numerous revisions, including adding an appendix that includes learning progressions, adding guidance on providing adequately- challenging instructional opportunities and differentiation, the removal of reference to a report called "A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction External link opens in new window or tab.", and providing additional information regarding the specific needs of various students.

Further, the IQC discussions underscored that the decision about acceleration/honors and AP courses is a local one and requested that the next draft include specific guidance on acceleration (including middle school acceleration) and serving high achievers and gifted students. Those changes will be reflected in the guidance that is posted for the second 60-day public comment period.

What is the purpose of the Framework?

Curriculum frameworks offer guidance for implementing content standards. Frameworks describe the curriculum and instruction necessary to help students achieve proficiency, and they specify the design of instructional materials and professional development. Further, they provide guidelines and selected research-based approaches for implementing instruction to ensure optimal benefits for all students. Additional information is available on the Curriculum Framework and Instructional Resources web page.

The research cited and discussed in the draft Mathematics Framework will help local educators as they work to diversify options and improve math outcomes for all students, including those that have historically struggled to successfully access math content and skills.

Does the draft Mathematics Framework prohibit local education agencies from serving “gifted” students?

No. Since the development of the 2013 Mathematics Framework, new research has emerged that can be used to inform local conversations about how to best serve high achieving students. The draft Mathematics Framework discusses the most recent research that concludes that students can achieve high levels of math competency if they have access to effective mathematics teaching and learning, which also fosters a growth mindset. However, just as with other student groups, high achieving students can be underserved or marginalized.

To provide a more inclusive approach, the draft Mathematics Framework encourages the use of open, authentic, multi-dimensional tasks. This includes but is not limited to, learning mathematical ideas not only through numbers, but also through words, visuals, models, algorithms, multiple representations, tables, and graphs; from moving and touching; and from other representations. Studies show that when learning reflects the use of two or more of these means, the learning experience improves.

Does the draft Mathematics Framework eliminate middle school mathematics acceleration programs?

No. The draft Mathematics Framework does not eliminate middle school mathematics acceleration programs (including programs that offer Integrated Math 1 or Algebra 1 courses to grade eight students). The draft Mathematics Framework emphasizes the importance of following the sequenced progression of topics laid out in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) and considers the latest research on the impact of skipping grades or undermining the sequences progression. Additionally, the CA CCSSM are significantly more rigorous than those from previous grade eight content standards. They address the foundations of algebra and geometry by including content that was previously part of the Algebra I course, including but not limited to a more in-depth study of linear relationships and equations, a more formal treatment of functions, and the exploration of irrational numbers.

The IQC discussions from the May 2021 meeting underscored that the decision about acceleration/honors and AP courses is a local one and requested that the next draft include specific guidance on acceleration (including middle school acceleration) and serving high achievers and gifted students. Those changes will be reflected in the guidance that is posted for the second 60-day public comment period.

Does the draft Mathematics Framework remove high school calculus?

No. The draft Mathematics Framework includes calculus in the possible high school pathways, while also presenting research that the “rush to calculus” without the depth of understanding is not helpful to students’ long-term mathematics preparation. Data shows that about one-half of all high school students who take calculus repeat the course in college or take pre-calculus in college.

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) issued a joint statement that included the premise: “Although calculus can play an important role in secondary school, the ultimate goal of the K–12 mathematics curriculum should not be to get students into and through a course in calculus by twelfth grade but to have established the mathematical foundation that will enable students to pursue whatever course of study interests them when they get to college.” (See MAA and NCTM Joint Statement External link opens in new window or tab..)

Similarly, the University of California’s board of admissions “strongly urges students not to race to calculus at the cost of full mastery of the earlier math curriculum. A strong grasp of these ideas is crucial for college coursework in many fields, and students should be sure to take enough time to master the material. Choosing an individually appropriate course of study is far more important than rushing into advanced classes without first solidifying conceptual knowledge.”

The University of California and California State University systems issued the Statement of Competencies in Mathematics Expected for Entering College Students which recognizes a need for broader thinking in mathematics. (See Statement of Competencies in Mathematics Expected for Entering College Students External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).)

The draft Mathematics Framework provides several diverse high school pathways, which are set forth in the pathway graphic below.

Graphic of Mathematics Framework many diverse high school pathways as described below

Diagram indicates three pathways of courses indicating a variety of course offerings. The preparatory courses are indicated at the bottom of the diagram. Starting from the bottom up, these include: Investigating and Connecting 1, Integrated 1, and Algebra 1. These are followed by Investigating and Connecting 2, Integrated 2, and Geometry, respectively. The later course options include: MIC – Modeling with Functions, Statistics, Calculus with Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Integrated 3, Algebra II, MIC – Data Science as well as “Other,” which indicates alternative mathematics courses not well represented in the other categories. Many possibilities exist for Other courses, including financial mathematics, discrete mathematics, or further three-dimensional geometry explorations, for example.

Note: The image is fully described in the text below the image.

Ultimately, the selection of pathways is a local decision. The draft Mathematics Framework does not intend to eliminate the ability of local educational agencies to provide accelerated opportunities, but to provide resources and research to help make the local decisions on acceleration. By direction of the IQC, the next draft of the Mathematics Framework will include specific guidance on acceleration (including middle school acceleration) and serving high-achieving students. Those changes will be reflected in the guidance that is posted for the second 60-day public comment period.

What does the draft Mathematics Framework say about Tracking?

Many California schools and districts struggle with questions of how and when to offer different pathways through K–12 mathematics. These pathways of sequential required courses can create unintentional barriers that prevent all students from accessing courses necessary to achieve the math skills and competency needed to graduate ready for college and/or later careers in California’s growing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) employment fields.

Research provides evidence that schools and districts that design pathways with access, opportunity, and equity at the center are more successful in preparing all students to be ready for college-level math and science. As a result of the documented negative outcomes on certain student populations found in both tracking and ability grouping, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) strongly advocates for creating a middle school mathematics that will “dismantle inequitable structures, including tracking teachers as well as the practice of ability grouping and tracking students into qualitatively different courses” (NCTM, 2020).

The largest association of mathematics teachers in the nation, NCTM has made clear that confronting structural inequities of tracking and ability grouping strengthens efforts to support all students in learning along a common pathway. The draft framework provides guidance that explains how all students can access the concepts that allow opportunity to pursue future college and career goals in math or science. Specifically, the framework provides information on how instruction for high-achieving students can be differentiated in ways that challenge them based on their academic needs and increases their depth of understanding. This can be done by providing instruction that delves deeper into the rigorous and sequenced progression of topics presented in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM).

Further, instruction based on open, authentic, multidimensional tasks allows all students to solidify conceptual knowledge and strengthen connections between mathematical areas. The result is that all students will develop a firmer mathematical foundation that will lead to greater achievement in advanced mathematics and other STEM courses as well as on state exams.

Importantly, instruction grounded in the CCSSM is also differentiated to meet the academic needs of other often underserved or marginalized groups of students such as students who have learning gaps, students with disabilities, and students who are English learners.

Revisions to the framework will share ways that students can follow individualized pathways that allow them to work at the most appropriate pace. It will also provide examples of schools that have developed flexible models of grouping and teaching students that are a significant improvement on previous tracked and inflexible approaches.

What is the process for Framework development?

The guidance contained in the draft Mathematics Framework was informed by the contributions of members of the public, individuals as well as interested organizations and coalitions of organizations, who provided feedback and numerous recommendations to the Math Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) and the IQC.

Pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 9511, the State Board of Education (SBE) appoints the CFCC. The CFCC is the advisory committee of mathematics practitioners, the majority of whom are mathematics instructors at the time of appointment, “to assist in the process of developing a curriculum framework.”

The Mathematics CFCC met a total of eight times in 2020 to review and provide edits and recommendations on the draft Mathematics Framework chapters in accordance with the SBE-established guidelines. The guidance contained in the current draft Mathematics Framework was reviewed and recommended to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) by the Mathematics CFCC.

Public input is an integral part of the state’s work. As such, all advisory committee meetings, including those of the IQC, are carried out with full transparency (See the IQC web page). Further, every meeting provides the opportunity for the public to provide input and comment, both in writing as well as orally. The guidance contained in the draft Mathematics Framework was informed by the contributions of members of the public, individuals as well as interested organizations and coalitions of organizations, who provided feedback and numerous recommendations to the Math CFCC and the IQC. The Mathematics Framework is currently under development. For information regarding the timeline, see the Mathematics Framework web page.

Questions:   Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division | cfird@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0881
Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 17, 2021