Briefing Paper Series on Mathematical Literacy

on May 01, 2005 in STEM by
A series of briefing papers that analyzes the imperatives and opportunities in critical areas of mathematics education. Prepared for the Council of Chief State School Officers and Texas Instruments, Incorporated.

Improving the mathematics skills of our citizenry has been a major concern for educators, policy makers, and the general public since long before Sputnik ushered in “new math.” With the most recent decade of education reform and the advent of “new-new math,” advances in mathematics research and education have led to both fruitful exchanges of ideas and challenging debates. Never before has it been so clear that mathematical literacy is vital for our nation’s economic growth, security, and civic progress. And never has the call to bring all children to high levels of mathematical literacy been sounded so forcefully. Yet, though our culture, our country, and our schools by and large expect all adults to be able to read, we do not expect all adults to be proficient in mathematics. (How often does someone utter, “I was never good at math,” only to be met with nods of understanding and compassion?) By and large, Americans accept the kinds of results that come from the widespread belief that not all children can learn mathematics beyond “arithmetic.”

Believing that all children can learn mathematics, and, indeed, that they must, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Texas Instruments Incorporated, have joined together in a partnership to respond to the clarity of purpose and urgency of mission felt in the states today around mathematics education. This partnership will investigate the influences on mathematics education and develop recommendations for effective state actions to lead to improved student performance in mathematics. This paper is the introduction to a series of papers designed to analyze the imperatives and opportunities in several critical areas of mathematics education. The papers will explore the depth and type of mathematical knowledge that students will need to be successful in today’s society; how that depth and type of mathematical knowledge is best taught and what this implies for schools and classrooms; and the conditions that need to be established to create this kind of teaching and learning in every classroom. Specific topics that will be addressed by this series include

  • The Imperative of Mathematical Literacy
  • Standards, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
  • Teacher Recruitment, Assignment, and Retention
  • Opportunities for Support and Partnerships

In the first paper of this series, we made the case for why all students need to be literate in mathematics. High quality standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment—the focus of this paper—is one set of tools necessary to improving mathematics achievement.

These briefing papers are developed specifically to be disseminated and used by those working to improve mathematics education. Permission is granted to reproduce and to quote items from the papers, as long as references to the authors and sponsoring organizations are provided. For this edition, the recommended citation would be: Stumbo, Circe, and Susan Follett Lusi, (September 2005), Standards-Based Foundations for Mathematics Education: Standards, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Mathematics, (Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers and Texas Instruments).

Questions about this paper or the series may be directed to:
Michael DiMaggio
Council of Chief State School Officers
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20001.

This paper was originally published in May 2005. The section on Michigan’s standards was updated September 2005.

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Library image (cc) D. Sharon Pruitt

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