In 1998 the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education asked the National Research Council to conduct a study of what research says about successful mathematics learning from the preschool years through eighth grade. The National Research Council, which is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences, established a committee of 16 people to carry out this task. The charge to the committee had three parts:
to synthesize the rich and diverse research on pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade mathematics learning;
to provide research-based recommendations for teaching, teacher education, and curriculum for improving student learning and to identify areas where research is needed;
to give advice and guidance to educators, researchers, publishers, policy makers, and parents.
The Mathematics Learning Study Committee included school practitioners, research mathematicians, educational researchers, and a retired business executive. Committee members differed not only in expertise but in viewpoint—at the beginning of the committee’s work its members had many different and contrasting ideas about how mathematics learning can and should be improved. Over the course of eighteen months and eight meetings, the committee reviewed and synthesized the relevant research, gathered materials from commissioned papers and presentations, and discussed mathematics learning in light of the many and varied experiences of its members. In the process, the committee members gradually arrived at a consensus about the changes needed in mathematics teaching, teacher education, and the mathematics curriculum.
The committee’s final book benefited from the efforts of many different people concerned with improving mathematics education. The book Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics can be purchased from the National Academy Press at 800–624–6242; it is also available on the World Wide Web at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/9822.html.
To disseminate the major conclusions of Adding It Up to a broader audience, a subcommittee of the Mathematics Learning Study Committee has overseen the production of this short book.