A report from the minutes of the MAA Board of
Governors meeting of January 10, 1989
John Dossey reported on the manner in which the Standards were derived. An NCTM committee has worked on these standards since 1986. The full report will be over 300 printed pages. They worked with publishers and companies who prepare standardized achievement tests in preparation for implementation of these standards.
MOTION: That the MAA endorses and supports the vision for school mathematics embodied in the NCTM Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics.
Randall Heckman raised the concern that there seems to be an emphasis on manipulative skills, especially in Euclidean geometry. Prof. Dossey explained that there was very little decrease in the theory except in two column proofs in deference to paragraph proofwriting skills and convincing arguments.
Richard Anderson expressed his concern regarding the implementation of these goals. Prof. Dossey responded that textbook publishers and achievement testing corporations have indicated their willingness to change textbooks and tests.
The motion passed.
The last paragraph states:
"The Standards provide a base for needed curriculum development, creation of textbooks and tests, teacher training programs, professional development activities, and other national efforts to bolster the mathematical competence of our youth. The NCTM has already instituted a number of activities in these areas to follow on the release of the Standards, as have many individuals and professional organizations involved in the mathematical sciences. As such, the NCTM would appreciate a statement of professional support for the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. We would like to list the MAA, along with other professional organizations in the mathematical and mathematical education area, in the Standards as a professional organization that supports the vision of school mathematics embodied in the Standards."
The beginning of the preamble discusses the history of the Standards and the level of contribution of all segments of the mathematical community. The motion to support the vision came from Dossey.
The MAA, through MSEB (Mathematical Sciences Education Board) has participated in the publication of various documents that implicitly support the NCTM Standards and indicate where we are and what our goals are. One such document is "Everybody Counts," published in 1989.
In 1991, the MAA published a report of COMET (Committee on the Mathematical Education of Teachers) entitled "A Call for Change." The recommendations in this report concerned the college preparation for future teachers of mathematics in K-12. They were highly influenced by the changes in K-12 education envisioned in the NCTM Standards and in the report, "Everybody Counts." In 1992, the MAA published a follow-up report entitled "Heeding the Call for Change."
In 1995, the MAA participated in the preparation of a CBMS (Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences) volume entitled "Changing the Culture: Mathematics Education in the Research Community." The volume was compiled by the Mathematicians and Education Reform Forum.
The July/August 1996 issue of the NCTM News Bulletin has a lot of material on the revision of the NCTM Standards. If you want to get a feel for what the NCTM's plans are, I highly recommend that you look at the entire issue. Here are some of the key points.
Here are some quotes from the President's Message, by Gail Burrill. "During 1995-1996, NCTM held focus groups at various meetings and conferences to discuss the Council's next steps with our Standards. The consensus was that the core message is right but that it needed to be elaborated and refined for the next decade. On the basis of this input, the Board of Directors voted in San Diego to begin a Standards update project." Using a question & answer format, Ms. Burrill emphasized that the NCTM is not "backing off" from the Standards. She indicated that the Standards "will probably be tightened, sharpened, and possibly modified to give some ideas a different emphasis and to introduce new thinking based on response from the field."
Another article explained that the NCTM Board of Directors has given a green light for plans to recast for the 21st century the three sets of NCTM Standards. An article entitled, "Exxon grant fosters greater math group cooperation," includes the statement that "this grant from Exxon will continue a tradition of support for Standards-based reforms in mathematics education."
The NCTM has recently created a Commission on the Future of the Standards, whose chair is Mary Lindquist. The NCTM has asked all other member organizations of CBMS (Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences) to have or create a committee to work closely with the Commission over the next three years. These review groups are to provide sustained advice and information. We are in the process right now of identifying a suitable group to serve in this role.
In addition, the new CBMS Educational Partnership will receive copies of the commentaries from the CBMS member societies and will attempt to synthesize and prioritize the recommendations from these societies. This document will then be sent to the NCTM Commission to assist them in sorting out what will undoubtedly be a very large number of comments and recommendations for changes.
For your information, CBMS consists of fourteen organizations:
In view of this, I decided to appoint a President's Task Force on NCTM Standards. At President-Elect Jerry Alexanderson's request, I have agreed to chair this Task Force. The fifteen members are listed below:
As you can see, this is a high-level group representing a broad spectrum of views and interests. The charge to the task force will be
The Task Force shall work with NCTM Commission on the future of the Standards, serving as a review group that will provide sustained advice and information concerning K-12 mathematics and the NCTM Standards.
The Task Force shall get widespread input from MAA members, including members of E&F, the Board of Governors, and the Section Officers. It shall keep E&F and the Board of Governors informed about the status of its work. At the appropriate times, the Task Force shall provide formal reports to the NCTM Commission on the Future of the Standards, the CBMS Educational Partnership, and to the MAA Board of Governors.
Department of Mathematics
University of Oregon