Standards of Mathematics Education

Throughout most of history, standards for mathematics education were set locally, by individual schools or teachers, depending on the levels of achievement that were relevant to, realistic for, and considered socially appropriate for their pupils.

In modern times, there has been a move towards regional or national standards, usually under the umbrella of a wider standard school curriculum. In England, for example, standards for mathematics education are set as part of the National Curriculum for England, while Scotland maintains its own educational system. In the USA, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers have published the national mathematics Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Ma (2000) summarised the research of others who found, based on nationwide data, that students with higher scores on standardised math tests had taken more mathematics courses in high school. This led some states to require three years of math instead of two. But because this requirement was often met by taking another lower level math course, the additional courses had a “diluted” effect in raising achievement levels.

In North America, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has published the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. In 2006, they released the Curriculum Focal Points, which recommend the most important mathematical topics for each grade level through grade 8. However, these standards are not nationally enforced in US schools.