National Academies Press: OpenBook

Helping Children Learn Mathematics (2002)

Chapter: What Can Policy Makers Do?

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Suggested Citation:"What Can Policy Makers Do?." National Research Council. 2002. Helping Children Learn Mathematics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10434.
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What Can Policy Makers Do?

  • Embrace the overarching goal of math proficiency for all.

  • Stress to interested stakeholders the need to accomplish this goal.

  • Support the allocation of scarce education resources to bring about needed critical changes.

    • Realign curricula to promote math proficiency.

    • Fund independent groups to assess alignment of textbooks and testing to achieve math proficiency.

    • Encourage the expenditure of time and resources for necessary and sustained teacher professional development.

    • Support the placement of one or more math specialists in each elementary school.

  • Maintain consistency with the above by supporting the concept that, whenever possible, education decisions should be based on evidence.

  • Take full advantage of the current national focus on and interest in improving education.

Suggested Citation:"What Can Policy Makers Do?." National Research Council. 2002. Helping Children Learn Mathematics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10434.
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Results from national and international assessments indicate that school children in the United States are not learning mathematics well enough. Many students cannot correctly apply computational algorithms to solve problems. Their understanding and use of decimals and fractions are especially weak. Indeed, helping all children succeed in mathematics is an imperative national goal. However, for our youth to succeed, we need to change how we’re teaching this discipline. Helping Children Learn Mathematics provides comprehensive and reliable information that will guide efforts to improve school mathematics from pre--kindergarten through eighth grade. The authors explain the five strands of mathematical proficiency and discuss the major changes that need to be made in mathematics instruction, instructional materials, assessments, teacher education, and the broader educational system and answers some of the frequently asked questions when it comes to mathematics instruction. The book concludes by providing recommended actions for parents and caregivers, teachers, administrators, and policy makers, stressing the importance that everyone work together to ensure a mathematically literate society.

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