The high school portion of the Standards for Mathematical Content specifies the mathematics all students should study for college and career readiness. These standards do not mandate the sequence of high school courses. However, the organization of high school courses is a critical component to implementation of the standards. To that end, sample high school pathways for mathematics – in both a traditional course sequence (Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II) as well as an integrated course sequence (Mathematics 1, Mathematics 2, Mathematics 3) – will be made available shortly after the release of the final Common Core State Standards. It is expected that additional model pathways based on these standards will become available as well.

The standards themselves do not dictate curriculum, pedagogy, or delivery of content. In particular, states may handle the transition to high school in different ways. For example, many students in the U.S. today take Algebra I in the 8th grade, and in some states this is a requirement. The K-7 standards contain the prerequisites to prepare students for Algebra I by 8th grade, and the standards are designed to permit states to continue existing policies concerning Algebra I in 8th grade.

A second major transition is the transition from high school to post-secondary education for college and careers. The evidence concerning college and career readiness shows clearly that the knowledge, skills, and practices important for readiness include a great deal of mathematics prior to the boundary defined by (+) symbols in these standards. Indeed, some of the highest priority content for college and career readiness comes from Grades 6-8. This body of material includes powerfully useful proficiencies such as applying ratio reasoning in real-world and mathematical problems, computing fluently with positive and negative fractions and decimals, and solving real-world and mathematical problems involving angle measure, area, surface area, and volume. Because important standards for college and career readiness are distributed across grades and courses, systems for evaluating college and career readiness should reach as far back in the standards as Grades 6-8. It is important to note as well that cut scores or other information generated by assessment systems for college and career readiness should be developed in collaboration with representatives from higher education and workforce development programs, and should be validated by subsequent performance of students in college and the workforce.