I’m thankful that I attended this year’s NCTM Annual Meeting and Exposition because this year NCTM released a new book, called Principles to Action: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. I attended two sessions about the book and became interested in its potential to become one of NCTM’s seminal works.
For over 20 years the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) had worked to bring about systemic change by defining the content, skills, and abilities that students needed to learn during before graduating high school. The need for NCTM to focus on defining those standards stopped when the National Governor’s Association commissioned the development of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
Principles to Action is NCTM’s answer to the question, “What now?” They answered the question by defining the “conditions, structures, and policies that must exist for all students to learn” (NCTM, 2014). These six Guiding Principles for School Mathematics are reproduced, in whole, from page 5 of Principles to Action.
Teaching and Learning. An excellent mathematics program requires effective teaching that engages students in meaningful learning through individual and collaborative experiences that promote their ability to make sense of mathematical ideas and reason mathematically.
Access and Equity. An excellent mathematics program requires that all students have access to a high-quality mathematics curriculum, effective teaching and learning, high expectations, and the support and resources needed to maximize their learning potential.
Curriculum. An excellent mathematics program includes a curriculum that develops important mathematics along coherent learning progressions and develops connections among areas of mathematical study and between mathematics and the real world.
Tools and Technology. An excellent mathematics program integrates the use of mathematical tools and technology as essential resources to help students learn and make sense of mathematical ideas, reason mathematically, and communicate their mathematical thinking.
Assessment. An excellent mathematics program ensures that assessment is an integral part of instruction, provides evidence of proficiency with important mathematics content and practices, includes a variety of strategies and data sources, and informs feedback to students, instructional decisions, and program improvement.
Professionalism. In an excellent mathematics program, educators hold themselves and their colleagues accountable for the mathematical success of every student and for their personal and collective professional growth toward effective teaching and learning of mathematics.
Clearly, NCTM plans to focus its immediate attention on the principle of teaching and learning. Almost half the book is focused on this one principle. None of the others received such detailed treatment. The sub-title for next year’s annual meeting, Reaching Today’s Students Through Innovative Teaching, reinforces their new focus.
What do you think of NCTM’s renewed emphasis on its core principles and, in particular, on teaching and learning? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2014). Principles to action: ensuring mathematical success for all. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.