Shaping the Standards: Your Reactions to the Discussion Draft

Teaching Children Mathematics, October 1999 | Go to article overview

Shaping the Standards: Your Reactions to the Discussion Draft


Last year, this journal devoted space each month to provide information and raise questions about Principles and Standards for School Mathematics: Discussion Draft. This year, the journals will include several articles that focus on the responses to the draft. Did you ever wonder who responded and what happened to their responses? What were some of the issues raised by those who responded? How did the writers react to the issues?

This article addresses the first question, explaining how responses were gathered, organized, and synthesized. The Commission on the Future of the Standards carried out these activities as a part of its charge to "collect and synthesize information and advice from within and outside the NCTM through the continued development of the Standards."

Gathering Responses

The Commission orchestrated a massive effort to reach a broad audience for reactions: 30 000 copies of the draft were distributed to NCTM members and others, and the full text of the draft was available on NCTM's Web site. More than 20 000 hits, including many from other countries, to the draft on the Web occurred each month. Additionally, a number of reviews were commissioned from individuals with particular expertise. Professional organizations - including those with an interest in mathematics, mathematics education, and education in general - were invited to respond.

Many individual responses came from a wide variety of professionals, including teachers, mathematics educators, mathematicians, and other educators, as well as from policymakers, parents, publishers, and others with an interest in mathematics education. We were pleased with the number of groups that submitted responses also. By 1 May, we had received more than 700 written responses from individuals and groups. These responses were organized and synthesized for the writers. Any responses received after 1 May were added to the organized feedback and given to the writers as they revised the draft.

Organizing Responses

The decision to solicit reactions using open-ended prompts instead of closed-form questionnaires resulted in a great variety of feedback in format, type, and intent. The analysis had to be robust enough to accommodate two competing goals - to support the development of major issues that the writers need to address and to capture simultaneously the more specific content and editorial comments needed to revise particular sections of the draft.

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