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Adding + It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics
ation Standards for School Mathematics.4 The document outlined and illustrated goals in the form of standards to be met by school mathematics programs. It called for a broadened view of mathematics and its teaching and learning, emphasizing the development of students’ “mathematical power” alongside more traditional skill and content goals. The NCTM later produced Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics5 and Assessment Standards for School Mathematics.6 Beginning in 1995, it embarked on a process to revise all three documents, resulting in Principles and Standards for School Mathematics,7 which was released in April 2000.
Although none of the NCTM documents established national standards for school mathematics in an official sense, much of the activity in U.S. mathematics education since 1989 has been based on or informed by the ideas in those documents. Many school mathematics textbooks claim to be aligned with the NCTM standards, and 13 curriculum projects were funded by the National Science Foundation to produce materials for elementary, middle, or high school that embodied the ideas expressed in the standards documents.8 The NCTM standards of 1989 launched the so-called standards movement, with standards for other school subjects appearing over the following decade.9 In 1994 the reauthorization of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act furthered boosted the movement. Title I provides supplemental financial assistance to local educational agencies to improve teaching and learning in schools with high concentrations of children from low-income families. The reauthorization “requires states to develop challenging standards for performance and assessments that measure student performance against the standards.”10 It should also be noted that A Nation at Risk, America 2000, and Goals 2000 (under Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, respectively) all called for higher, measurable standards in education.11
As of 1999, 49 states reported having content standards in mathematics and several states were in the process of revising their standards.12 These standards (sometimes called curriculum frameworks) describe what students should know and be able to do in mathematics. Most of the state standards reflect the 1989 NCTM standards and either repeated verbatim or were adapted from the document. Early versions of these state standards were organized into grade clusters (e.g., grades K-4), but some states (e.g., California, Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia) have recently developed grade-by-grade standards.13
Current state standards and curriculum frameworks vary considerably in their specificity, difficulty, and character, as illustrated by the widely divergent ratings they received in three reviews conducted by the American Federa-