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NCTM Releases Curriculum Focal Points

NCTM Releases "Curriculum Focal Points"

On September 12, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) released a new set of recommendations, entitled "Curriculum Focal Points." The recommendations identify three mathematical topics for each grade, from pre-kindergarten to grade 8, that are particularly important. The goal, according to NCTM, is "more coherence" to mathematics curricula and to provide "a framework for states and districts to design more focused curricular expectations and assessments for pre-K to grade 8 mathematics curriculum development."

Pointing out that states often create their own standards for what must be achieved by students at each grade level, NCTM argues that Focal Points can provide a nation-wide consensus on such standards. For example, NCTM recommends that second graders should develop "quick recall" of basic addition and subtraction facts, fourth graders should be similarly fluent with multiplication and division, and seventh and eighth graders should be able to use algebra to solve linear equations.

"Focal Points" was viewed by many as a retreat from NCTM's Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, which drove much of the innovation in mathematics curricula over the last few years. The NCTM says that in fact the new recommendations simply clarify their vision for school mathematics.

FOCUS plans to publish articles with more extended analysis of "Focal Points" in a future issue.

News Date: 
Friday, October 27, 2006