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Curriculum Focal Points for Mathematics in Prekindergarten through Grade 8


"In 1980 the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) published An Agenda for Action (NCTM 1980), launching an era of bold professional outreach by describing the shape that school mathematics programs should take. That publication outlined ten recommendations for K-12 mathematics programs, focusing on the fundamental need of students to learn how to solve problems. In 1989, the Council published Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM 1989), expanding these recommendations into a vision for mathematics teaching and learning in K-grade 4, grades 5-8, and grades 9-12. Curriculum and Evaluation Standards provided major direction for states and school districts in developing their curriculum guidelines. Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM 2000) followed at the turn of the new century, adding underlying principles for school mathematics and clarifying and elaborating on the 1989 Standards for pre-K-grade 2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8, and grades 9-12.

"Principles and Standards for School Mathematics remains the comprehensive reference on developing mathematical knowledge across the grades, and the Council continues to produce numerous related publications and services to support, expand, and illuminate this work.

Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence extends the Council's leadership of more than twenty-five years by describing an approach to curriculum development that focuses on areas of emphasis within each grade from prekindergarten through grade 8....

"Three curriculum focal points are identified and described for each grade level, pre-K--8, along with connections to guide integration of the focal points at that grade level and across grade levels, to form a comprehensive mathematics curriculum. To build students' strength in the use of mathematical processes, instruction in these content areas should incorporate:

  • the use of the mathematics to solve problems;

  • an application of logical reasoning to justify procedures and solutions; and

  • an involvement in the design and analysis of multiple representations to learn, make connections among, and communicate about the ideas within and outside of mathematics.

"The purpose of identifying these grade-level curriculum focal points and connections is to enable students to learn the content in the context of a focused and cohesive curriculum that implements problem solving, reasoning, and critical thinking..."