NEW JERSEY'S MATHEMATICS STANDARDS
Implementing New Jersey's Mathematics Standards...
This set of standards is not an end in itself. It represents, instead, a beginning - the beginning of a process intended to mobilize all segments of the education community and the state at large to truly reshape our approach to mathematics education, to achieve the vision.
... Through Statewide Efforts
Statewide efforts to implement the New Jersey's Mathematics Standards are proceeding in a number of areas, including curriculum framework, assessment, professional development, and public information.
New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework
An important step in implementing the Mathematics Standards is the development of this document, the New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework, with the support of a three-year grant from the United States Department of Education. In accepting the grant, the New Jersey Department of Education and the New Jersey Mathematics Coalition also accepted the challenge to develop and implement a world-class curriculum framework which will serve as a model for other states.
The New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework contains chapters dealing with each of the standards. Each chapter provides overviews of what the standard means at each of five grade level clusters (K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12), and activities which illustrate how the cumulative progress indicators can be achieved at each of those grade levels. The Framework will provide assistance and guidance to districts and teachers in how to implement these standards, in translating the vision into reality.
In order for these standards to be implemented, our statewide assessment program must be based on the Mathematical Standards; and if these standards truly represent what we value in the learning of mathematics, then that must be reflected in what we assess and how we assess it. The New Jersey Department of Education will continue to develop a statewide assessment program which reflects the Mathematics Standards. A fourth-grade statewide mathematics assessment aligned with these standards is now being developed, called the Elementary School Proficiency Assessment (ESPA), and should replace the kinds of standardized tests currently in use which tend to reinforce a traditional low-level, drill-based curriculum. The Eleventh-Grade High School Proficiency Test (HSPT) and the Eighth-Grade Early Warning Test (EWT) will continue to evolve to reflect the Mathematical Standards.
In order for the Mathematics Standards to be implemented, there must also be a concerted effort to provide professional development activities to enable teachers to achieve in their classrooms the vision described in this document. Teachers at all grade levels will need to understand and utilize new content material, new orientations toward problem-solving and reasoning, and new strategies for helping all students achieve success. To do this, they will need extensive assistance, through expanded opportunities for professional development throughout the state, and commitment and encouragement from their schools and districts to take advantage of those opportunities.
At the level of public information, there will be a concerted effort to inform parents and the public about New Jersey's Mathematics Standards, and to enlist their cooperation and advocacy in the implementation of the standards. The New Jersey Mathematics Coalition developed and distributed in 1995 a booklet, Mathematics To Prepare Our Children for The 21st Century: A Guide for New JerseyParents. This booklet conveyed the vision and the substance of the standards to the parents of the state, and encouraged them to support the direction and efforts represented by the national and state standards. A revised guide for parents will be published and disseminated widely. Moreover, the Coalition will continue to develop other vehicles for conveying the message of the standards to New Jersey parents and the public, such as activities for parents during Math, Science and Technology Month (MSTM) each April and presentations to parent organizations, and will continue to provide parents with mathematical experiences that reflect the vision of New Jersey's Mathematics Standards.
... Through Local Efforts
The New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework is designed to provide assistance and guidance to schools and districts in their efforts to implement the Mathematics Standards. However, the vision is not something that can be achieved overnight; there is no "magic wand" which will suddenly transform a classroom or a curriculum into one which implements these standards. A decision by a school or a district to work toward achieving the vision involves an ongoing commitment to a process of change. That process should begin now.
Chapter 20 of this Framework provides a model for understanding systemic change, and describes specific processes to follow in order to successfully bring about change. Key to the success of efforts designed to bring about systemic change is enlisting the involvement and support of all those affected by the change.
An important first step in each school is to encourage teachers to review and explore together the Mathematics Standards and the New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework. Each chapter of the Framework can serve as a basis for extended discussions involving teachers and administrators, and school personnel are encouraged to form discussion groups for this purpose. They might begin by:
However, teachers cannot carry out these suggestions without support. To facilitate this process, we encourage schools and districts to:
All of these activities will be valuable. However, to realize the vision throughout the state, virtually all elements in our educational system must be rethought. Some of the areas of concern and questions which arise are these:
These questions are raised in the New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework, and should be part of the ongoing discussion at the local level, as well as at the state level, of how the Mathematics Standards can best be implemented in New Jersey schools.
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