ERIC Number: ED497645
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Reference Count: 22
Do the Math: Cognitive Demand Makes a Difference. Research Points, Volume 4, Issue 2, March 2006
Resnick, Lauren B., Ed.; Zurawsky, Chris, Ed.
American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Today, mathematics education faces two major challenges: raising the floor by expanding achievement for all, and lifting the ceiling of achievement to better prepare future leaders in mathematics, as well as in science, engineering, and technology. Many students lack access to higher-level mathematics courses and teaching at all levels of pre-college schooling. This is unacceptable in the face of the ever-expanding technical demands posed by higher education and the 21st-century job market. Research reveals that strong academic experience is needed for both college and the workforce. Raising the cognitive demand in the curriculum is necessary for enhancing students' career prospects. Recent trends show progress, but curriculum policies that limit course options restrict opportunities to learn for traditionally underserved students. This problem is compounded by the sorting of students according to ability within the same mathematics classes and the low quality of some mathematics instruction in elementary and middle schools. Bringing less advantaged students into higher mathematics study and preparing future leaders in mathematics and science are not mutually exclusive ends. If math is taught at a higher level of cognitive demand, even in the early grades, people can look forward to a future in which high mathematics achievers better reflect the country's diverse population. To accomplish this, schools need to be staffed by well-prepared teachers, and high curriculum standards should be a priority. Teaching in high-performing schools requires a learning environment that supports sustained student engagement on both basic skills and cognitively demanding conceptual mathematics tasks.
Descriptors: Middle Schools, Mathematics Instruction, Mathematics Education, Labor Market, Academic Achievement, Track System (Education), Equal Education, Mathematics Curriculum, Difficulty Level, Cognitive Processes
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.