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This article was originally published as an Issue Brief. The sample survey data are from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).  
 
In 1995, half of the states (25) had content standards in mathematics; by 1998, this number had increased to 42 (Council of Chief State School Officers 2000). Fortyfive states had student assessments in mathematics in 1994; by 1999, 47 states had such assessments. The existence of standards and assessments at the state level does not guarantee that classroom teachers are familiar with the standards or with the specifications of assessments (Cohen and Hill 2000). Neither does it guarantee that classroom instruction reflects the standards and assessments. In fact, mathematics standards have created significant controversy over the efficacy of different types of instruction for improving student performance (Loveless 2001; see, especially, the chapter by Loveless). The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments of 1995 and 1999* take a representative sample of eighthgrade students. This Issue Brief draws on surveys administered to these students’ mathematics teachers. Using the survey results, this analysis examines the degree of teacher familiarity with various standards and assessments in 1995 and 1999. It then compares teacher reports of their instructional practices in classrooms with teacher reports of their familiarity with standards and assessments. Instruction is compared on the kinds of problemsolving activities advocated by national and state standards during the mid1990s and on computational skill practice, which received more emphasis in the standards at the close of the 20th century (Loveless 2001).
Teacher familiarity with state education department documents, such as curriculum guides and assessment specifications, appears to have increased between 1995 and 1999 (table 1). In 1999, fewer students had teachers who were not familiar with assessment specifications (44 percent in 1999 compared with 57 percent in 1995). In 1999, students were also less likely to have teachers who reported they were not familiar with their state education department curriculum guides (20 percent) compared with students in 1995 (33 percent). 
NOTE: Not all apparent differences in this table are statistically significant because many estimates have large standard errors. Standard errors are available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2003022. Teachers who reported “no such document” are not included. There may be overlap among those reporting “no such document” and those reporting “not familiar.” In some cases, teachers unfamiliar with standards documents may have incorrectly reported “no such document”; in other cases, teachers may have reported “not familiar” when, in fact, a document existed. The data did not allow checking of these responses for accuracy.
SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), 1995 and 1999. 
Students with teachers who were more familiar with national, state, and local standards for practice were more likely to be asked to do problemsolving activities. For example, in 1999, students with teachers who were very familiar with state education department assessment specifications were more likely than students with teachers who were fairly or not familiar with these documents to be asked to represent and analyze relationships using tables, charts, or graphs in most lessons or every lesson (41 percent of those with teachers who were very familiar compared with 22 and 19 percent, respectively, of those with teachers who were fairly familiar and not familiar; table 2). In 1999, students with teachers who were very familiar with these documents were also more likely to be frequently asked to write equations to represent relationships than students with teachers who were not familiar with these documents (69 percent and 44 percent, respectively). Similarly, students with teachers who reported being very familiar with state education department curriculum guides were more likely than students with teachers who were fairly or not familiar to be asked to explain the reasoning behind an idea in most lessons or every lesson in 1999 (86 percent, 68 percent, and 62 percent, respectively). However, there were no significant differences in 1999 in the percentages of students who were asked to practice computational skills in most lessons or every lesson by teacher familiarity with state education department assessment specifications. 
NOTE: Not all apparent differences in this table are statistically significant because many estimates have large standard errors. Standard errors are available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2003022. Teachers who reported “no such document” are not included. There may be overlap among those reporting “no such document” and those reporting “not familiar.” In some cases, teachers unfamiliar with standards documents may have incorrectly reported “no such document”; in other cases, teachers may have reported “not familiar” when, in fact, a document existed. The data did not allow checking of these responses for accuracy.
SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), 1995 and 1999. 
There were stronger relationships between teacher awareness of standards and assessments and classroom practices in 1999 than in 1995 on several measures. These stronger relationships were especially apparent for students with teachers who were familiar with state education department documents, such as curriculum guides and assessment specifications. Students with teachers who were very familiar with state education department curriculum guides were more likely to have teachers who reported asking their students to work on problems for which there is no obvious method of solution in most lessons or every lesson in 1999 than in 1995 (22 percent and 9 percent, respectively). Students with teachers who reported being very or fairly familiar with these guides were more likely to be frequently asked to write equations to represent relationships in 1999 compared with 1995 (58 percent compared with 33 percent and 49 percent compared with 30 percent, respectively). Similarly, students with teachers who were very familiar with the state education department assessment specifications were more likely to be frequently asked to represent and analyze relationships using tables, charts, or graphs, to write equations to represent relationships, and to practice computational skills in 1999 than in 1995 (41 percent compared with 20 percent, 69 percent compared with 45 percent, and 68 percent compared with 38 percent, respectively). Students whose teachers were fairly familiar with this type of document were more likely to be frequently asked to work on problems for which there is no obvious method of solution and to write equations to represent relationships in 1999 than in 1995 (26 percent compared to 6 percent and 53 percent compared to 26 percent, respectively). At the school level, students with teachers who were very familiar with school curriculum guides were more likely to be frequently asked to represent and analyze relationships using tables, charts, or graphs, to work on problems for which there is no obvious method of solution, and to write equations to represent relationships in 1999 than in 1995 (28 percent compared with 15 percent, 24 percent compared with 12 percent, and 59 percent compared with 38 percent, respectively). Students with teachers who reported being not familiar with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards or school district curriculum guides were more likely to be frequently asked to do problemsolving activities, such as explain the reasoning behind an idea, in 1999 than in 1995 (68 percent compared with 42 percent and 73 percent compared with 38 percent, respectively).
Change in teachers’ instructional practices may not equal change in students’ achievement. In fact, researchers are divided on the relative benefits of problemsolving and computation emphases. A cautionary note is also needed on the measurement of classroom instruction. The analysis of instructional practices relied on teachers’ reports of the activities in which they engaged their students. Selfreports of instruction may lack a universally understood vocabulary with which to describe practice (Loveless 2001; see, especially, the chapter by Shouse). Measures of frequency, absent indicators of content, quality, and rigor, can provide only limited information to suggest whether teaching is moving in a particular direction.
This analysis shows that teacher awareness of state curriculum guides and state assessments increased between 1995 and 1999. At the end of the last decade, teachers who were very familiar with these policy instruments were more likely than their peers to employ instructional practices that are consistent with the current state curriculum guides and state assessments. In addition, this Issue Brief provides modest support for the existence of a relationship between familiarity with policy instruments and teacher practices (see also Cohen and Hill 2000). In particular, students with teachers who were more familiar with state education department curriculum guides and assessment specifications were more likely to be frequently given various instructional tasks reflecting the problemsolving and computation emphases of the current policies in 1999 than in 1995.
Footnote
Cohen, D., and Hill, H.C. (2000). Instructional Policy and Classroom Performance: The Mathematics Reform in California. Teachers College Record, 102(2): 294–343. Council of Chief State School Officers. (2000). Key State Education Policies on K–12 Education: 2000: Time and Attendance, Graduation Requirements, Content Standards, Teacher Licensure, School Leader Licensure, Student Assessment. Available: www.CCSSO.org (retrieved December 20, 2002). Loveless, T. (Ed.). (2001). The Great Curriculum Debate: How Should We Teach Reading and Math? Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.
