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New NCTM Publication Moves Math Education Principles to Actions

14861-Principles_to_Action-150x214New Orleans, La., April 10, 2014—Continuing its tradition of mathematics education leadership, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has released Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All to define and describe the principles and actions, including specific teaching practices, that are essential for a high-quality mathematics education for all students.

Principles to Actions gives all stakeholders the ideas, the research, and the actions they need to dramatically improve mathematics education,” said NCTM President Linda Gojak. “It outlines the productive practices all teachers should adopt to improve their students’ mathematics learning, and it describes practical steps that math specialists and coaches, administrators, policymakers, and parents can take to support a high-quality mathematics education.”

This landmark publication builds on NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, published in 2000, and the Council’s previous standards publications, and it supports implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). These new standards provide guidance and direction and help focus and clarify common outcomes. However, learning and student achievement and success depend on teachers.

Steve Leinwand, chair of the writing team, said, “The primary purpose of Principles to Actions is to fill this gap between the development and adoption of CCSSM and other standards and the enactment of practices, policies, programs, and actions required for their widespread and successful implementation. Its overarching message is that effective teaching is the nonnegotiable core that ensures that all students learn mathematics at high levels and that such teaching requires a range of actions at the state or provincial, district, school, and classroom levels.”

To provide mathematics education that supports the learning of all students at the highest possible level, the obstacles that exist in too many schools and classrooms must be addressed and removed. For example, the focus is too often on the teaching and learning of procedures without any connection to meaning, understanding, or the applications that require these procedures. Principles to Actions spells out productive and unproductive beliefs and then sets forth actions to overcome obstacles and maximize productive beliefs. For example when it comes to high-quality teaching:

  • What must teachers do?
    Plan and implement effective instruction as described by the Mathematics Teaching Practices.
  • How must principals, coaches, specialists, and other school leaders respond?
    The eight Mathematical Teaching Practices must become a schoolwide focus and expectation for all teachers in order to strengthen learning and teaching for all students, and school leaders must provide training and coaching to make the implementation of these practices a priority.
  • How must leaders and policymakers in districts answer the call to action?
    Ongoing professional development that supports the implementation of the eight Mathematics Teaching Practices must become a high level priority.

In Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, the Council first defined a set of Principles that “describe features of high-quality mathematics education.” Principles to Actions now articulates and builds on an updated set of six Guiding Principles that reflect more than a decade of experience and new research about excellent mathematics programs, as well as significant obstacles and unproductive beliefs that continue to compromise progress. First and foremost among the Guiding Principles is Teaching and Learning. In addition to detailing the Mathematics Teaching Practices required for effective teaching and successful learning, Principles to Actions sets forth the actions needed to address the remaining Guiding Principles—the five Essential Elements: Access and Equity, Curriculum, Tools and Technology, Assessment, and Professionalism.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is the public voice of mathematics education, providing vision, leadership, and professional development to support teachers in ensuring mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students. With 80,000 members and more than 200 Affiliates, NCTM is the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving mathematics education in prekindergarten through grade 12. The Council’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics includes guidelines for excellence in mathematics education and issues a call for all students to engage in more challenging mathematics. Its Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics identifies the most important mathematical topics for each grade level. Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making advocates practical changes to the high school mathematics curriculum to refocus learning on reasoning and sense making. NCTM is dedicated to ongoing dialogue and constructive discussion with all stakeholders about what is best for our nation’s students.

Media interested in arranging an interview with Linda Gojak, NCTM President, or Steven Leinwand, lead writer of Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All, should contact Tracy Withrow, Communications Manager, (571) 423-6315.

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