The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has outlined principles and standards as well as assessment standards for the discipline of mathematics. Their Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) reflects a concern that students in the United States are not mathematically literate and often fail to see the relationship between mathematics learned in school and applications to real-life situations. The content and process standards are organized into grade bands: PK–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12. Schools and communities, with guidance from the standards, must determine how to embed these principles into their schools' mathematics instruction. Forty-nine of the 50 states have adopted state-level standards in mathematics.
NCLB strengthens Title I accountability by requiring states to implement statewide accountability systems covering all public schools and students. These systems must be based on challenging state standards in reading and mathematics, annual testing for all students in Grades 3–8, and annual statewide progress objectives ensuring that all groups of students reach proficiency by 2014. National Assessment of Educational Progress results show the extent to which students can solve problems using their mathematical knowledge. Since 1990, NAEP mathematics assessments have placed increasing emphasis on fostering mathematical knowledge and power. The 1996, 2000, and 2003 nationwide mathematics assessments focused on reasoning and communication by requiring students to connect their learning across mathematical content strands. Results of the 2003 Mathematics National Center for Education Statistics show that overall mathematics scores are improving, especially in the fourth grade.
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