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July–August 2008

 Selected articles from the NCTM News Bulletin

1. NCTM Advocates for Curricular Coherence
2. Focus in High School Mathematics
3. Candidates for 2008 Election

1. NCTM Advocates for Curricular Coherence

Testifying before the House Education and Labor Committee, NCTM Past President Francis (Skip) Fennell stated that "Mathematics is important for every student in every classroom in this country, regardless of grade level, gender, race, or ethnicity. This is not a ‘for nerds only’ subject; it’s a ‘for everyone’ opportunity," he said. "Math is important for our culture, for our country, and for our children."

Fennell’s testimony at the hearing on May 21 was one of two Capitol Hill events in May that included NCTM speakers. He addressed the recent report by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel on the state of math achievement and instruction in the United States. The hearing enabled witnesses from the education and business communities to weigh in on the report’s findings and recommendations.

Fennell spoke about the work of the National Math Panel, which found that appropriate curricular focus and coherence were a challenge in math classrooms nationwide. "Teachers today are guided by state curriculum standards that sometimes include more than 100 learning expectations per grade level," he said. "Consequently, to get through all of these expectations, teachers address topics superficially rather than in depth, and learning suffers."

The panel’s report points to a need for a more coherent and focused curriculum in prekindergarten through grade 8. Further, it identifies the most important topics that must be mastered for success in algebra. After witness statements, committee members asked questions addressing topics that ranged from the desirability of national standards to the need for additional research and the quality of textbooks.

Stem Education Caucus

On May 13, NCTM and Achieve, Inc., in conjunction with the House Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Caucus, cosponsored a briefing on mathematics education: "Mathematics Education Standards and Curricular Coherence: Replenishing the STEM Pipeline and Preparing Future Workers." Congressional staff and other interested parties attended the event, which focused on mathematics education standards and the related issues of assessment, alignment, and curricular coherence.

NCTM Executive Director Jim Rubillo hosted the event, and Skip Fennell provided an overview of the Math Panel’s
findings, particularly as they relate to

curriculum. A major recommendation of the panel was to refine the K–12 math curriculum with the goal of addressing the findings that math textbooks and grade level objectives are "a mile wide and an inch deep." Unlike other countries with higher math scores in international assessments, the United States has mathematics curricula that are overly broad and repetitive and lack the depth and focus necessary for students to develop conceptual understanding. Fennell spoke about the intent of NCTM’s Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics to address the issue of a lack of curricular coherence in the United States.

Sandy Boyd and Laura Slover presented two initiatives developed by Achieve to improve rigor and consistency in algebra instruction. Through research with postsecondary faculty and employers, Achieve has identified the skills and knowledge that all students need to have in mathematics by the end of high school to succeed in college and career. Achieve has now "back-mapped" all of these American Diploma Project (ADP) benchmarks to show what students should be able to master from kindergarten through grade 12. Achieve is also leading a multistate assessment effort with 14 states participating in the ADP Algebra II end-of-course exam.

NCTM’s focal points and Achieve’s benchmarks continue to bring focus to teaching, learning, and assessing mathematics, and both aim to achieve a greater uniformity in the mathematics curriculum nationwide. The goal is to improve student learning and achievement in mathematics.

For More Information:

Full Committee Hearing: The National Mathematics Advisory Panel Report: Foundations for Success —view a Webcast of the hearing or read witness testimony.

National Mathematics Advisory Panel report—created in 2006 by an executive order of President Bush, the Panel was charged to examine and summarize the scientific evidence related to the teaching and learning of mathematics, with a specific focus on preparation for and success in learning algebra. Download the complete report.

Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics—the most important mathematical topics for each grade level. They comprise related ideas, concepts, skills, and procedures that form the foundation for understanding and lasting learning. Download the complete publication.

—the most important mathematical topics for each grade level. They comprise related ideas, concepts, skills, and procedures that form the foundation for understanding and lasting learning. Download the complete publication.

American Diploma Project benchmarks—what students should know and be able to do from kindergarten through grade 12.

2. Focus in High School Mathematics

NCTM has appointed a committee to develop and write a publication that will provide direction and focus for the high school mathematics curriculum. This document, tentatively titled "Focus in High School Mathematics," is scheduled for release at the 2009 NCTM Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The impetus for this new project was the 2006 publication of Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence, but its approach is somewhat different. Rather than providing grade-level focal points, the high school publication asserts that reasoning and sense making must become a main focus of high school mathematics curriculum. The result will be a strengthening of both content and process skills and greater coherence across all topic areas.

An important part of the publication’s development will be feedback and comment by NCTM membership on a preliminary draft in Fall 2008. More information about how to participate in this public review will be available in the September NCTM News Bulletin.

3. Candidates for 2008 Election

This year, NCTM members will elect the next president as well as four new board members. These leaders will serve on the fourteen-person NCTM Board of Directors and make important decisions about Council actions, policies, and programs. The successful candidate for president will serve one year as president-elect (2009–10), working closely with President Henry (Hank) Kepner before assuming the full duties of president for a two-year term beginning in the spring of 2010. Those elected to the Board of Directors will serve three-year terms beginning at the conclusion of the NCTM 2009 Annual Meeting and Exposition in April.

Individual NCTM members will receive election materials, including nominees’ biographies and return ballots, in the mail in late September. This year, ballots may be submitted by mail or online, and must be received by October 31, 2008.

The Nominations and Elections Committee has announced the following candidates for this year’s election:

Candidates for President-Elect (one will be elected)

  • Bonnie J. Hagelberger, Monroe Elementary School, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
  • J. Michael Shaughnessy, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Candidates for Director (four will be elected)

  • Ed Dickey, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Barbara Dougherty, University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi
  • Karen Graham, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire
  • Florence Glanfield, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
  • Diana Lambdin, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
  • David Masunaga, Iolani School, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • William Speer, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Judith Zawojewski, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois

 

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