Will Your Child Be Ready For High School And College Mathematics?
Today's standards-based mathematics programs are designed to help your child learn the mathematics needed in high school, in college and in the workplace. High school and college teachers of mathematics want students who can think, reason and apply mathematics.
Employers want workers who are willing and able to solve problems, work with their fellow employees and communicate their thinking. Young people need to prepare for an ever-changing workplace and technological society. Flexible problem solving and working collaboratively are among skills that will help them thrive.
Standards-based mathematics curriculum materials have been designed to help address the needs of both continuing study of mathematics and preparation for the workplace.
What's Happening In Today's Mathematics Classrooms?
Children should experience mathematics as an interesting, relavant and important field of study in their school classroom.
When you were in school, you probably learned mathematics skills by observing the teacher and then practicing the skill many times. While mathematical skills are still very important, today's school mathematics programs also include attention to learning how to reason, solve problems and apply understanding and skills to solve a range of real problems.
In today's classrooms you will see students actively involved with mathematics. You might see students:
- working on complex problems that can't be solved within a single lesson.
- measuring, making graphical displays, building models
- using textbooks as well as computers, calculators and manipulatives.
- explaining how they got an answer until other students and the teacher understand.
- working in groups and also on their own.
You will also see teachers observing students and asking probing questions in addition to lecturing and leading discussions.
The goal is a learning environment in which all students learn important mathematics. Today's mathematics programs should help your child:
- understand mathematics and communicate about it.
- know when, where and how mathematics is used.
- apply concepts and skills to solve problems.
- appreciate mathematics as an important area of study and way of thinking.
What Curriculum Standards Or Guidelines Are Being Used To Ensure Your Child Receives A High-Quality Mathematics Education?
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) published comprehensive curriculum standards for mathematics education in 1989 and updated them in 2000 as the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (PSSM).
Based on years of experience and research, the PSSM serve as a guide for teachers and administrators in creating high-quality mathematics programs. School mathematics programs that are developed based on the NCTM standards documents are often referred to as "standards-based" mathematics programs.
PSSM includes a set of principles that describe important features of any high-quality mathematics program.
Among these principles is a commitment to equity -- the idea that all students deserve a high-quality, challenging mathematics program.
Standards-based instructional programs from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 programs emphasize five mathematical strands:
- Number -- including the ability to compute fluently with whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percents
- Measurement -- including the units, system and processes of measurement developing area and formulas for complex shapes
- Algebra -- including using symbols, equations and graphs to represent and solve problems
- Geometry -- including characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and coordinate and transformational geometry
- Statistics and Probability -- including analyzing data and creating sample spaces for complicated probabilities.
The NCTM standards also emphasize that all students should advance their ability to reason and justify ideas, be able to communicate using mathematical symbols and precisions, and connect mathematics to the real world.
What Kind Of Results Should You Expect?
Results indicate that students are benefiting from the balanced approach described here. Students in classrooms that utilize standards-based curriculum materials and instuctional techniques do well on traditional achievement tests. And new tests using open-ended response formats show strong gains in conceptual understanding as well as procedural skills.
What Can You Do To Support Your Child's Mathematical Education?
Your support makes a big difference in your child's success in mathematics. Consider these suggestions...
- Talk with your child about what's going on in mathematics class.
- Look for ways to link mathematical learning to daily activities. Encourage your child to figure out the amounts for halving a recipe, estimating gas mileage or figuring a restaurant tip. Share your strategies with them and ask them about their thinking strategies.
- Encourage your child to schedule a regular time for homework and provide a comfortable place for their study, free from distractions.
- Monitor your child's homework on a regular basis by looking at one problem or asking your child to briefly describe the focus of the homework. When your child asks for help, work with them instead of doing the problem for them.
- Attend Open House, Back-to-School Night and other school events.
- Consider scheduling a private conference with the mathematics teacher to encourage open lines of communication. Ask tdhe teacher what the goals of the class are, what kinds of assessments are used. Ask what you can do to help your child.
- Be a volunteer in your child's school or classroom.
- Join the local parent-teacher organization so that your voice can be heard and so that you can support the efforts of teachers and administrators.
For More Information
U.S. Department of Education
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
The primary professional organization for teachers of mathematics in grades K-12. NCTM provides broad national information in matters related to mathematics education.
Phone: (703) 620-9840
A parent-oriented website with regularly updated problems and challenges to do with your children.