To the Editor:
The final set of common academic standards released June 2 by the Common Core State Standards Initiative are a welcome milestone in the standards movement that began more than 20 years ago when the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics published its “Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics.” State leaders acknowledge that common K-8 and high school standards culminating in college and career readiness will offer better support for national improvement in mathematics achievement than the current system of individual state standards (“Final Version of Core Standards Assuages Some Concerns,” June 9, 2010).
The new common standards provide the foundation for more-focused and coherent instructional materials and assessments that measure students’ understanding of mathematical concepts and acquisition of fundamental reasoning habits, in addition to fluency with math skills. Most important, they will enable teachers and education leaders to focus on improving teaching and learning.
The NCTM, the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics, and the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators support the goal of the common-core standards to describe a coherent, focused curriculum that has realistically high expectations and supports an equitable mathematics education for all students. Much of the standards document echoes the long-standing positions and principles of our organizations:
• All students need to develop mathematical practices such as solving problems, making connections, understanding multiple representations of mathematical ideas, communicating their thought processes, and justifying their reasoning.
• All students need both conceptual and procedural knowledge related to a mathematical topic, and they need to understand how they are connected.
• Curricula should organize learning expectations in ways that reflect research on how children learn mathematics.
• All students need opportunities for reasoning and sense-making across the mathematics curriculum—and they need to believe that mathematics is sensible, worthwhile, and doable.
Our organizations pledge to help educators interpret and understand the common standards, and to support the development and implementation of comprehensive, coherent instruction and assessment systems. We strongly encourage and support both research about the standards themselves and their implementation, as well as periodic review and revision based on such research.
J. Michael Shaughnessy
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics
Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics
Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators
A version of this article appeared in the June 16, 2010 edition of Education Week as Math Groups Support Common Standards