Making Mathematics Work for All Children: Issues of Standards, Testing, and Equity

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By Alan Schoenfeld, University of California, Berkeley

In Educational Researcher, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 13-25

ABSTRACT (from journal): ”Mathematics Education is a civil rights issue,” says civil rights leader Robert Moses, who argues that children who are not quantitatively literate may be doomed to second-class economic status in our increasingly technological society. The data have been clear for decades: poor children and children of color are consistently shortchanged when it comes to mathematics. More broadly, the type of mathematical sophistication championed in recent reform documents, such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (2000)Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, can be seen as a core component of intelligent decision-making in everyday life, in the workplace, and in our democratic society. To fail children in mathematics, or to let mathematics fail then, is to close off an important means of access to society’s resources. This article discusses the potential for providing high quality mathematics instruction for all students. It addresses four conditions necessary for achieving this goal: high quality curriculum; a stable, knowledgeable, and professional teaching community; high quality assessment that is aligned with curricular goals; and stability and mechanisms for the evolution of curricula, assessment, and professional development. The goal of this article is to catalyze conversations about how to achieve sustained, beneficial changes.

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