Project: COMPASS

Authors: Mark St. John, Kasi Allen Fuller, Nina Houghton, Dawn Huntwork, Pamela Tambe

Type: Report

Publication: January 2000

High School Mathematics Curricular Decision-Making: A National Study Of How Schools And Districts Select And Implement New Curricula (pdf, 29 pages)


The following monograph presents findings from a nation-wide study of the decision-making processes that schools and districts engage in when choosing a high school mathematics curriculum. During the past decade, secondary mathematics educators have confronted increasing pressures, as well as conflicting messages, when faced with the task of choosing a new mathematics program. On the one hand, the prevalence of high stakes testing in many states and districts encourages a traditional approach to mathematics – one that emphasizes basic skills and traditional algorithms. National Standards, on the other hand, advocate for a complete overhaul of high school mathematics that better reflects the needs of citizens in the new millennium. While eager to reform their high school mathematics programs, many districts and schools find that the task of re-organizing an entire secondary mathematics curriculum to be daunting.

The study described here arose out of a desire to better understand what we call “the high school mathematics curricular decision-making landscape” – that is, the people, the ideas, and the contextual forces that figure most prominently in shaping the curricular decisions that districts and schools make when putting together their high school mathematics programs. Our interest in conducting the study grew out of our work with COMPASS, the secondary mathematics dissemination and implementation center funded by the National Science Foundation. COMPASS contracted Inverness Research Associates to document and evaluate the work of their center. In trying to fully comprehend the issues of disseminating, implementing, and supporting non-traditional mathematics programs, it became to clear to us that we needed to know much more about the existing national landscape of curricular decision-making as it pertains to high school mathematics.

Intended Audience

Mathematics Curriculum Developers, Mathematics Educators, Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) Education Leaders, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research, Inc.

Distribution Policy

Inverness Research Inc. grants permission to print and distribute copies.