Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NCTM Focal Points (Standards)

According to this bulletin from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, there are apparently three (3) focal points identified for each grade level, PreK-8.

Here are the focal points, followed by excerpts from NCTM's explanation.

  • the use of the mathematics to solve problems;
  • an application of logical reasoning to justify procedures and solutions; and
  • an involvement in the design and analysis of multiple representations to learn, make connections among, and communicate about the ideas within and outside of mathematics.
"These curriculum focal points should be considered as major instructional goals and desirable learning expectations, not as a list of objectives for students to master."
". . .this set of curriculum focal points has been designed with the intention of providing a three-year middle school program that includes a full year of general mathematics in each of grades 6, 7, and 8."
Go here to read entire bulletin.


My observations:

No matter how good these focal points (expectations) sound, don't kid yourself that they intend for your child to master them. These focal points are not to be considered "as a list of objectives for students to master." That isn't considered to be important to NCTM. Notice, however, that it is considered important that they learn to communicate about the ideas they are learning. And don't be surprised if that communication is written.

And . . .

If states and districts follow these suggested standards, your students will likely fall short of the goal of most families -- completion of pre-algebra and algebra by the end of 8th grade.