Friday, May 5, 2017

Will the High School Math Experience for Students Become Better Any Time Soon?

Matt Larson
In his latest message to the NCTM community President Matt Larson writes:

For perhaps the first time in our history there is clear and growing consensus concerning what constitutes effective mathematics instruction, kindergarten through college.  

He emphasizes “through college” because based on the latest reports he confidently says:
And the next time someone says to you that some practice “isn’t what students will do in college,” make sure you share with them the evidence that postsecondary mathematics instruction is beginning to change in ways that are consistent with long-standing recommendations at the K–12 level. As K–12 teachers of mathematics, we certainly don’t want to prepare our students for a past that is in the process of changing and will increasingly no longer exist.
Good news also on the high school front. In another post Larson writes:
It is with great excitement that NCTM announces it is embarking on the development of Pathways through High School Mathematics: Building Focus and Coherence (working title).  This new publication will 
  • Address the purpose of high school mathematics and include guiding principles such as access, equity, and empowerment; 
  • Define math curricular pathways leading to college pathways and career readiness, as well as active participation in our democratic society; and 
  • Provide narrative descriptions of course exemplars, including their big ideas, that could populate the pathways. 
The goal of high school mathematics education must always be to expand options for students in ways that appropriately accommodate the post-secondary goals of different students. 
The NCTM Board of Directors has appointed a nine-member task force representing the constituencies that make up the larger mathematics education community at both the K–12 and post-secondary levels.  The task force’s charge is to develop and present these high school pathways with the same level of focus and coherence that currently exists in the NCTM Curriculum Focal Points and the K–8 Common Core State Standards. 
This is promising news because CLIME has usually found that the worst part of the high school experience for students is boredom. Also, I hope to see more attention paid to student interests and differentiated paths. The high school experience can be an exciting time for students.
Hopefully, the work of the task force will help to achieve a more positive experience for students.