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NCTM Launches Two New Public Outreach Efforts

Shaughnessy_52010by NCTM President J. Michael Shaughnessy
NCTM Summing Up, September 2011

As we begin the new school year, I wish you and your students the best ever mathematics teaching and learning adventure. It is our love for the mathematics itself, and the satisfaction we obtain from watching our students grow in their mathematical thinking, that keep us wedded to this marvelous profession as teachers of mathematics. As members of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, we share in the mission of providing the best possible mathematics learning opportunities for all our students. The Council is our primary public voice for mathematics education in the United States and Canada. Because this is so, I want to alert you to two new public efforts by the Council, one in the policy arena and another in the outreach arena.

The Mathematics Common Core Coalition, MC3 
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and six other organizations have agreed to form a coalition to share perspectives and to provide expertise and advice on issues related to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). Joining NCTM as coalition members are the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

The mission of the new coalition is straightforward:

The Mathematics Common Core Coalition strives to ensure the successful communication, interpretation, implementation, and assessment of the Common Core State Standards.

The Coalition was formed to take action on one of the primary recommendations in the report of the Joint Task Force of NCTM, AMTE, NCSM, and ASSM (Sept 2010) in response to the launch of the Common Core State Standards. The coalition has three goals:

  1. Provide a means to review, research, develop, and communicate common messages throughout the implementation and assessment of the CCSSM.
  2. Provide content and assessment expertise and advice from the communities of mathematics educators for the development of the content frameworks of the assessment consortia for the CCSSM.
  3. Collect, analyze, and disseminate information about CCSSM implementation and assessment processes to inform future revisions of the CCSSM.

The coalition has established a website that will provide access to documents and links to material, information, and resources that the organizations of the coalition are providing to the public and to the education community about CCSSM. The idea is that this website will be the “go to” site for teachers, district and state leaders, and mathematics educators for information about the implementation, interpretation, and assessment of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. The website is now live and includes information about the seven coalition organizations, and links to their current support and information documents for the CCSSM. The URL for the Coalition’s website is

The Common Core State Standards present teachers, districts, and leaders in the education system with some unusual opportunities but also some real challenges. The goal of this new coalition is to help realize the full potential of the Common Core State Standards. By combining our strengths and coordinating our efforts, we hope to continue to provide the best possible support for teachers and others responsible for delivering high-quality mathematics education to our students.

Joint NCTM and MoMath Campaign to Promote Mathematics 
In a previous President’s Message I wrote that it was time for us to stamp out the prevalent attitude toward our great subject—“that it is OK to be bad at mathematics” (October, 2010). For too long it has been socially acceptable to proclaim, “I was never good at math,” and to garner some measure of social acceptance from that announcement. This attitude in turn fosters poor attitudes toward mathematics in subsequent generations who watch their adult role models sadly shake their heads and tell them, “I could never get mathematics, so it’s no wonder you can’t either.” 

As a public voice of mathematics education, NCTM has a responsibility to future generations of teachers and students to turn around this negative attitude. At the summer NCTM Board of Directors meeting, a task force was created to work with leaders of the new Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) to develop a plan for initiating and implementing a mathematics public image campaign.

In the late fall of 2012, the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) plans to have its grand opening in New York City. The purpose of MoMath is to provide an ongoing public forum for promoting, celebrating, and experiencing the beauty, power, and usefulness of mathematics. NCTM and MoMath share the common goal of promoting mathematics, not only in the United States and Canada, but throughout the world. We plan to share more details and recommendations on this joint public campaign during the NCTM Annual Conference and Exhibition in Philadelphia next spring.

We expect that these two new NCTM public efforts will provide additional ongoing support for mathematics teachers as we engage with students, parents, and the members of our communities to pursue what we love most—the teaching of mathematics. I wish the best of school years to you all!

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