reform efforts. In 1989, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) published the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (CESSM), which was the first attempt to lay out comprehensive national goals for mathematics learning. The curriculum goals portion of the document was divided into three sections representing grade-level clusters: 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Each section contained goals for all students and additional goals for college-intending students. CESSM promoted a view of mathematics as accessible to all students if instruction were changed to place greater emphasis on understanding and applicable knowledge and less emphasis on the memorization of facts and procedures.
CESSM, serving as the first national model of content expectations in school mathematics, had substantial influence on the mathematics instructional goals and frameworks later developed by a number of individual states. Nevertheless, over time it became clear that CESSM lacked the specificity needed by state policy makers to set objectives at and across grade levels and by teachers to implement the report’s pedagogical and curricular ideas in their classrooms. In response to these perceived limitations, in 2000 the NCTM developed and published a successor document, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (PSSM) (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000).
While PSSM preserved the essential tenets of the earlier CESSM, especially its emphasis on the importance of learning mathematics with understanding, it also added several enhancements. To provide more grade-level-specific clarity and guidance, PSSM was divided into narrower grade-level bands: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. For each band, PSSM presented only one set of goals for all students. PSSM also had a common set of overarching curricular expectations across the K-12 spectrum, which was intended to help state officials develop logical progressions of instruction from grade to grade for inclusion in state curriculum guidelines. PSSM was much more specific than the CESSM about the research basis for its recommendations, and the NCTM published a companion document that reviewed research in a number of areas directly related to the content of PSSM.
PSSM was subjected to extensive field review prior to publication, and it was generally well received when published in 2000, but it arrived at the dawn of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era in American education. Because extant standardized tests of school mathematics were not well aligned with PSSM, and because NCLB regulations required that these tests be a regular feature of every school year in grades 3-8 in order to determine whether adequate yearly progress was being made, PSSM had far less impact on states, schools, teachers, and students than had been envisioned by the NCTM.
One decade later, the move toward national guidance regarding expectations for school mathematics learning took a giant leap forward with the