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students to learn. The Learning Principle: assessment should enhance mathematics learning and support good instructional practice. The Equity Principle: assessment should support every student’s opportunity to learn important mathematics” (NRC, 1993c, p. 1). Finally, in order for the proposals for the action strategy to be effective, we assume that the national test in mathematics will convey to students, teachers, and the public a set of high expectations to aspire to in K-8 mathematics. This would mean that the content emphases and coverage of the national test will be consistent with mathematical emphases that are valued in the mathematics and mathematics education communities (NCTM, 1989; NRC, 1990). Because the action strategy will involve teachers and the public, the content emphases and coverage of the national test need to be made explicit and distributed widely, so that teachers, parents, and students will be constructively guided in their local curricular decisions in grades K-8, and in local planning for continuing professional development of teachers. In helping the public to understand the test and the action strategy, the test needs to be presented as a means of focusing on the important mathematical goals of the K-8 grades, and as an initial indicator, not a final grade, of students’ progress toward those goals. We assume also that the test can be refined and adapted over time to reflect the mathematics community’s changing values about assessment practices, about what mathematics students should know and be able to do, and about the effectiveness of the action strategy. It is also our understanding and urging that the mathematics and mathematics education communities will continue to have substantial opportunity to be involved in influential roles throughout the entire process of decision making about test development, implementation, and evaluation. The MSEB will seek ways of facilitating and ensuring this ongoing involvement. CONCLUSION The proposal for a national test of mathematics and the actions associated with that proposal present an opportunity for unprecedented focus on the mathematics experiences of children in grades K through eight. The eighth grade year is a significant one, in that for many students it includes the beginning of their formal study of algebra, a gateway to secondary school mathematics. Of particular importance is the potential for a broad base of support to improve mathematics education, in the areas of teacher professional development, curriculum, technology, and public awareness. These activities represent a unique opportunity for the mathematics and mathematics education communities to undertake concerted and bold efforts toward excellence in mathematics learning for all children.
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