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Volume 12, Number 5
September/October 1996

Mathematics and Science Standards

What Do They Offer the Middle Grades


For generations, good teachers have designed their curriculum and pedagogy guided by the questions "What do I want my students to know at the end of the year?" and " What do I want my students to be able to do with this knowledge?" These questions are now the centerpiece of academic standards for what all students should know and be able to do in mathematics and science. Standards released by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in 1989 and the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Science in 1996 represent the considered thinking of teachers, mathematicians, and scientists about the essential knowledge and skills that all students need to succeed as learners.

As guides to curriculum and teaching, these standards highlight desired learning on two dimensions: (1) knowledge of the important and enduring concepts in math and science and (2) the cognitive processes that can make sense of that knowledge that is, thinking skills that enable students to use the facts and concepts in these disciplines to learn for understanding. The developers of these standards envision learning that develops these thinking skills-reasoning, problem-solving, making connections, and communicating as the context for learning basic skills and facts. They envision classrooms in which students explore the essential questions in the disciplines, with the aim of engaging students in experiencing the disciplines as a set of dynamic ideas rather than as a list of facts.

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For Further Information

For Further Information

J.M. Braddock. "Tracking the Middle Grades: National Patterns of Grouping for Instruction. Phi Delta Kappan 71, no. 6 (February 1990): 445-449.

A.S. Bryk et al. A View from the Elementary Schools: The State of Reform in Chicago. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research, 1993.

R.J. Coley. What Americans Study Revisited. Princeton, NJ: Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service, 1994.

Commission on Standards for School Mathematics. Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989.

Connected Mathematics Project. Michigan State University, 101 Wills House, East Lansing, MI 48824.

J.L. Epstein and D.J. MacIver. "Opportunities to Learn: Effects on Eighth Graders of Curriculum Offerings and Instructional Approaches." The Johns Hopkins University, Center for Research on Effective Schooling for Disadvantaged Students, CDS Report 33, no date.

D.P. Keating. "Adolescent Thinking," in S.S. Feldman and G.R. Elliott, eds., At the Threshold: The Developing Adolescent. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

M.M. Lindquist, J.A. Dossey, and I.V.S. Mullis. Reading Standards: A Progress Report on Mathematics. Princeton, NJ: Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service, no date.

Mathematics in Context: A Connected Curriculum for Grades 5-8. University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, 1025 West Johnson St., Madison, WI 53706.

National Research Council. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1996.

National Science Teachers Association. Pathways to the Science Standards. Arlington, VA: Author, 1996.

J.Oakes. Multiplying Inequalities: The Effects of Race, Social Class and Tracking on Opportunities to Learn Mathematics and Science. Santa Monica CA:RAND Corporation,1990.

D.Perkins and T.Blythe."Putting Understanding Up Front." Educational Leadership 51,no. 5 (Feburary 1994): 4-7.

J.B. Smith."Does an Extra Year Make Any Difference? The Impact of Early Access Algebra on Long Term Gains in Mathematics Attainment." Educational Policy and Policy Analysis 18, no 2(1996):141-153.

P. Wohlstetter."Getting School-Based Management Right." Phi Delta Kappan 77,no 1 ( September 1995):22-24