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In addition to having different perspectives on improving mathematics education the eight documents differ in length, potential audience, and scope. For example, the document produced by the Learning First Alliance is not comparable in length or scope to the document produced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. It is, however, significant in at least three ways: (1) it was a significant attempt by a group of those outside of the mathematics education community to address important issues related to improving what happens in mathematics classrooms; (2) it suggested steps the organizations represented by the Alliance might take in order to realize their recommendations; and (3) it served as resource for other groups that built on the thinking in the Learning First Alliance document to produce their own. As another example, the document produced by the Conference Board on Mathematical Sciences and published by the American Mathematics Society is content focused and primarily addresses university mathematics faculty who are in some way responsible for the mathematics preparation of prospective teachers. On the other hand, the document on teacher education published by the NRC is targeted at the wider audience of those who are responsible for preparing teachers. It describes in general the problems and issues related to teacher education and the teaching of science, mathematics, and technology, and it makes policy recommendations that call for restructuring teacher preparation and professional development programs.
Improving Mathematics Education has been designed to help inform stakeholders about the decisions they face, to point to recent research findings, and to provide access to the most recent thinking of experts on issues of national concern in mathematics education. The essence of the report is that information is available to help those charged with improving student achievement in mathematics. The documents cited above can guide those who make decisions about content, learning, teaching, and assessment.
The report is organized around five key questions:
What should we teach, given what we know and value about mathematics and its roles?
How should we teach so children learn, given what we know about students, mathematics, and how people learn mathematics?
What preparation and support do teachers need?
How do we know whether what we are doing is working?
What must change?
Each of the five main chapters in this report considers a key area of mathematics education and describes the core messages of current publication(s) in that area. To maintain the integrity of each report's recommendations, we used direct quotes and the terminology defined and used in that report. If the wording or terminology seems to need clarification, the committee refers the reader directly to the original document. Because these areas are inter