Problem solving and contextual problems

Curriculum Models

Bellevue School District in Washington recently underwent series changes to its mathematics curriculum. The primary goal of these changes was to better prepare all students for college educations. Thus, the district implemented a subject-centered development model focusing on the discipline to help standardize mathematics education across the board and better prepare students for what they would encounter in college life.

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In an era where college is so important, Bellevue School District wanted to ensure that all students graduating from high school within the district were properly prepared for college. According to the research, “Bellevue’s goal was to create a coherent K — 12 aligned mathematics curriculum with support structures for teachers and students to ensure all students would be prepared to attend and graduate from college” (Dana, 2008). The district is now partnering with higher education facilities to help build curriculum that prepare students for college. The changes were quite dramatic, but ultimately went to serve a very progressive goal. Thus, the district focused on “designing a new curriculum program with the goal of giving every student in Bellevue a first-rate, college-preparatory education — one that would prepare students not just to be admitted to college, but also to graduate from college” (Dana, 2008). It was a move to better provide for students of all levels and backgrounds.

Prior to implementing such changes, Bellevue was a district with intense decentralization. Each school was free to adopt its own lessons for curriculum and even the books it would use in the process. However, this often led to problems base don the concept that here was a lack of standardization. This ultimately resulted in some students not getting the same level of education compared to other schools within the district. Thus, the superintendent focused on the standardization of the district’s mathematics program. Here, the research suggests that “Bellevue School District has been working to create a coherent mathematics program through mathematics curriculum alignment and teacher professional development, with the goal of having all students take and pass Precalculus (the course and the exam) before graduating” (Dana, 2008). By standardizing this curriculum to such a high standard, the district felt it was better preparing students for what they would experience in college. This is how the district wanted to meet its goal “to provide all students with an exemplary college preparatory education so they can succeed in college, career, and life” (Hoeger & Roghan, 2013). After a review of the available programs that could be implemented, the teachers and school officials chose the Contemporary Mathematics in Context curriculum (Core Plus) because of its “focus more on problem solving and contextual problems” (Dana, 2008). Currently, the district is now working to dismantle non-honors mathematics and help give students who need it extra support so they can work at a honors level. This ultimately helps improve the scores of students who would have otherwise not been exposed to higher level math curriculum.

This is an example of subject-centered curriculum, where the content of the curriculum takes center stage. The content must be able to provide students with an education level that is appropriate for their learning experiences in college. The district has “taken curriculum development out of teachers’ hands, allowing teachers to focus on teaching rather than spending all their time developing materials” (Dana, 2008). Through this standardization, teachers can provide more intensive support for students who have been having trouble with the heightened curriculum. Thus, it is discipline based, which focuses on the core conceptual concepts of the mathematics discipline. This model focuses on critical thinking skills in the subject of mathematics, especially problem solving, including the need to “provide skill-building mathematics experiences” (Dana, 2008). Ultimately, the subject-centered curriculum demands the students work to master the subject of mathematics so they graduate high school at a proficiency that will allow every one of them to be successful in college level mathematics.


Dana, Charles A. (2008). K-12 Aligned Mathematics Curriculum. Practices Worthy of Attention. Bellevue School District.

Hoeger, Jami & Roghan, Kerry. (2013). Bellevue School District Mathematics. Web.

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