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A Brief History of Mathematics Education and the NCTM Standards (page 4)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

The Influence of Recent Legislation

The need for reform in mathematics education has not gone unnoticed by U.S. legislation. In 1994 Congress enacted into law the Goals 2000 Educate America Act. On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. These laws mandate that all states implement accountability systems and that teachers and schools are held accountable for the education of all students. The Goals 2000 Educate America Act includes the following terms and definitions:

(1) The terms “all students” and “all children” mean students or children from a broad range of backgrounds and circumstances, including disadvantaged students and children, students or children with diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, students or children with disabilities, students or children with limited-English proficiency, school-aged students or children who have dropped out of school, migratory students or children, and academically talented students and children;

(4) The term “content standards” means broad descriptions of the knowledge and skills students should acquire in a particular subject area;

(9) The term “performance standards” means concrete examples and explicit definitions of what students have to know and be able to do to demonstrate that such students are proficient in the skills and knowledge framed by content standards;

(11) The term “State assessment” means measures of student performance which include at least one instrument of evaluation, and may include other measures of student performance, for a specific purpose and use which are intended to evaluate the progress of all students in the State toward learning the material in State content standards in one or more subject areas

Goals 2000 Educate America Act, 1994

In compliance with these laws, nearly every state in the United States has developed its own set of content standards, performance standards, and assessment measures. At the time of this printing, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse Web site provides links to the state frameworks for mathematics and science education for 49 of the 50 states. Many of these frameworks include content standards that reflect the NCTM goals and standards. Some representative examples of objectives from state models or frameworks are provided within this text. You may wish to download or purchase the appropriate document for your state.

State and Local Standards

Many school districts have developed their own sets of standards and assessment measures. Such documents are generally based on the appropriate state model or framework or on the national standards set by the NCTM. Local district standards may break one national or state objective into several smaller objectives or specific tasks and may specify which objectives or tasks are to be covered during each grading period of the school year. Compare the Number and Operations NCTM standard versus the standard developed by West Point Elementary.

The tasks described by the West Point Elementary Scope and Sequence Document address the national standard expectation components of mental computation, estimation, and calculators. Other components of this expectation are addressed within other objectives (not reprinted here) from the West Point Scope and Sequence Document. Notice the progression of the difficulty level of the tasks throughout one year and into the next. This is typical of the teaching methods of today. A topic is not introduced, taught once, and then forgotten until the following year. Important instructional objectives are revisited and reinforced throughout the school year as necessary. Research indicates that an incremental approach, where concepts and skills build on prior concepts, skills, and knowledge, is highly effective in student retention of material (Klingele & Reed, 1984).

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