October 25, 2000 2 min read

NAEP’s Math Revisions: The federal testing program billed as the nation’s “report card” is going to update its mathematics test to reflect current trends.

The National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the program, has contracted with three education groups to revise the math- curriculum frameworks that form the basis of test questions on the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ state exams.

The updated frameworks will take into account changes in states’ math standards since the governing board, known as NAGB, first created the state-by-state tests in 1990.

Since then, the philosophy of teaching mathematics has shifted in several states, including California, away from problem-solving and conceptual understanding and toward skills-based instruction that emphasizes practicing mathematical functions.

The current frameworks determined the content of the math exams that NAGB gave in 1990, 1994, 1996, and 2000. This year’s results will be available next summer. NAGB plans to update regularly the frameworks for all subjects taught in the state-by-state assessment.

The updated math frameworks will “represent a balanced approach to math instruction and assessment,” Mark D. Musick, NAGB’s chairman and the president of the Southern Regional Education Board, said in announcing the contract this month.

At the same time, the new frameworks won’t stray far from the existing ones. To continue the tracking of trends dating back to 1990, the new frameworks must be similar to the current versions.

The three groups sharing the $976,000 contract will review changes made in state standards and curricula since the governing board adopted the original frameworks in 1988.

They will form committees of teachers, curriculum experts, and mathematicians to survey what math content is being taught in the nation’s classrooms and recommend the best ways of assessing students’ knowledge of it.

NAGB is planning to adopt revisions to its math frameworks late next year so the new content will be ready to be the basis for questions given on the 2004 math exam, the next time it is to be given.

The groups conducting the research are the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council for Basic Education—both based in Washington—and the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics, which is a member of the Washington-based Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences.

—David J. Hoff