BOX 2–1 Basic Principles and Features of Principles and Standards for School Mathematics

This document is intended to (p. 6):

  • set forth a comprehensive and coherent set of goals for mathematics for all students from prekindergarten through grade 12 that will orient curricular, teaching, and assessment efforts during the next decades;

  • serve as a resource for teachers, education leaders, and policymakers to use in examining and improving the quality of mathematics instructional programs;

  • guide the development of curriculum frameworks, assessments, and instructional materials;

  • stimulate ideas and ongoing conversations at the national, provincial or state, and local levels about how best to help students gain a deep understanding of important mathematics.

The six principles for school mathematics address overarching themes (p. 11):

  • Equity. Excellence in mathematics education requires equity—high expectations and strong support for all students.

  • Curriculum. A curriculum is more than a collection of activities: it must be coherent, focused on important mathematics, and well articulated across the grades.

  • Teaching. Effective mathematics teaching requires understanding what students know and need to learn and then challenging and supporting them to learn it well.

  • Learning. Students must learn mathematics with understanding, actively building new knowledge from experience and prior knowledge.

  • Assessment. Assessment should support the learning of important mathematics and furnish useful information to both teachers and students.

  • Technology. Technology is essential in teaching and learning mathematics; it influences the mathematics that is taught and enhances students’ learning.


(NCTM, 2000), under the umbrella of goals and principles, focuses on content expectations along with instruction and assessment and devotes increased attention to the vertical (pre-K-12) development of important mathematical ideas (see Box 2–1).1


Several publications document the development, expected applications, and dissemination of NCTM mathematics standards, and their use in developing state standards (NRC and NCTM, 1997; Romberg, 1998; Kirst and Bird, 1997; McLeod et al, 1996; Humphrey et al., 1997; CCSSO, 1997; Weiss et al., 1994).

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