Structures of curriculum governance and classroom practice in mathematics

Ian Westbury, Chao Sheng Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely believed that the patterns of curriculum governance within educational systems have significant effects on the consistency of content coverage and, as a result, on "standards" across a system. In one of the few empirical studies testing this belief, Stevenson and Baker (1991) found, using the grade 8 data from the IEA Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS), that countries with greater central (state) control over the curriculum show less variation in content coverage of the mathematics being taught than do countries with less central control. This study re-examines Stevenson and Baker's findings using the SIMS data sets but, instead of "country," uses "course" as the unit of analysis. Cross-national, course-level analyses of both the SIMS grade 8 and grade 12 data found no consistent relationship between patterns of curriculum governance and consistency of teacher coverage of mathematics content. Instead between-course coverage patterns appear to reflect transcultural conceptions of the nature of a course, e.g., algebra at grade 8 and calculus at grade 12 and interactions between the conceptions of the content of the areas making up a course and teachers' and/or cultural assumptions about students' aptitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-139
Number of pages17
JournalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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