New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework
© Copyright 1996 New Jersey Mathematics Coalition


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.

Statewide Assessments

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.

Professional Development

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.

Public Information

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:

  • reviewing together the Mathematics Standards, discussing what each standard means, the extent to which they are already addressing each standard, and what next steps they can take;

  • selecting individual content chapters from the Framework for more extensive review, discussion, and implementation;

  • reviewing together the vignettes at the end of this chapter and discussing how their own classroom practices can reflect the diversity of strategies described there;

  • using the chapters on the two learning environment standards as a basis for review of their instructional and assessment techniques; and

  • developing their own recommendations concerning how the school or district can begin its efforts to achieve the vision.

However, teachers cannot carry out these suggestions without support. To facilitate this process, we encourage schools and districts to:

  • create opportunities for teachers to meet together regularly, possibly through the scheduling of common planning times;

  • actively encourage teachers in their explorations, providing resources to support such activities;

  • take steps to provide more flexible scheduling, permitting extended periods for exploration and contiguous periods for collaboration among mathematics and science teachers; and

  • make meaningful professional development activities for teachers an important priority.

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:

Mathematical Disposition: How can a community of mathematics learners best be created and then fostered in a school setting? How can the positive affective characteristics that we hope for in students be extended to and reinforced by their parents and community?

Equity: What teaching and administrative strategies result in the inclusion of all students in mathematical activities? How can we plan for and achieve true equity in our mathematics classrooms?

Instruction and Assessment: What are the most effective strategies for assuring the adequate integration of curriculum, instruction, and assessment? How can we best assure that appropriate connections are made among mathematical topics and between mathematics and other disciplines, that technology truly becomes a tool for mathematics learning, that mathematics learning is active, involving, and exciting? What materials and resources are necessary to assure our success? What means of evaluation will best allow us to measure our progress toward these goals?

Professional Development: What are the most effective strategies for preparing teachers at both the pre-service and in-service levels to teach in a manner consistent with these standards? What efforts are necessary to develop and nurture the cadre of mathematics teacher leaders that will be needed to move the vision beyond this document? What is the role of the state's college and university faculties in this process?

School Organization: What type of school culture and ethos must be in place before these recommended changes in orientation can begin to take hold and then grow and flourish? What changes are needed in school scheduling and time allocation practices to promote the kind of teaching and learning envisioned here? What implications for staffing and teacher assignment are inherent in the standards?

Educational Policy: What changes in the state administrative code or the body of state mandates would further encourage the reform suggested here? What local school district policies either inhibit or promote these efforts? What are the roles of local school administrators and school board members in support of the standards? How can this document be used as a vehicle for change? What mechanisms are in place to assure that the vision it embodies changes and grows with time?

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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New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework
© Copyright 1996 New Jersey Mathematics Coalition