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ERIC Number: EJ806633
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0033-1538
The Massachusetts Math Wars
Stotsky, Sandra
Prospects: Quarterly Review of Comparative Education, v37 n4 p489-500 Dec 2007
This article recounts the battle in the "math wars" that took place in Massachusetts, United States in 1999-2000 over the scope, content and teaching of the state's K-12 mathematics curriculum. Harsh controversies arose between the partisans of a "reform-math" movement stressing an undefined "conceptual understanding" and student-created algorithms and those, including the author, advocating an academically stronger mathematics curriculum as well as fluency in students' computational skills with whole numbers and fractions. While "reform-math" supporters privileged and fought for a radical constructivist view of mathematics learning, the Massachusetts Board of Education decided to implement mathematics standards that linked strong academic content to the development of authentic computational competencies in students. Following the introduction of newly revised mathematic standards in 2000, real progress was reached in terms of student achievement. According to the results of the 2007 tests in reading and in mathematics for Grade 4 and Grade 8, reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Massachusetts ranked first nationwide in mathematics and tied for first place in reading, with its students having made significant gains from 2005 to 2007. The article makes a strong case for evidence-based curriculum design and implementation, freed, as much as possible, of mythologies and misconceptions. It explains why it was necessary to reject the theoretical assumptions and pedagogical strategies embedded in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' 1989 and 2000 standards documents. It also highlights the importance of a strong personal life and working "principles" underpinning the mission of curriculum developers: successful reform "strategies" are indeed meaningless in the absence of such durable personal beliefs and values.
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Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts