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Tool Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics


Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics expresses the vision of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) for teachers who are well prepared to teach mathematics. The standards describe a set of principles accompanied by elaborations and illustrations that can be used to judge what is valuable and appropriate in mathematics teaching.

The standards for teaching mathematics emphasize the important decisions teachers need to make in teaching:
  • Selecting and using worthwhile mathematical tasks;
  • Managing classroom discourse;
  • Creating an environment to support teaching and learning, and;
  • Analyzing student learning, mathematical tasks, and the environment to make instructional decisions.

The standards for evaluation of teaching mathematics include the process and substance of evaluation. Central to these standards is the assumption that evaluation should result in the professional growth of teachers.

The standards for professional development of teachers focus on what teachers, both pre-service and in-service, need to know about mathematics and pedagogy to develop mathematically powerful students. The document addresses the following areas of professional development:
  • Modeling good mathematics teaching,
  • Knowing mathematics and school mathematics,
  • Knowing students as learners of mathematics,
  • Developing as a teacher of mathematics, and
  • Teachers’ role in professional development.

Finally, the standards for the support and development of teachers and teaching address the responsibilities of those who make decisions that affect the teaching of mathematics. These groups include policy makers, schools and school systems, colleges and universities, and professional organizations. The standards describe ways members from the different groups can support mathematics teaching and teachers.

This vision of mathematics teaching includes guidance to help elementary and secondary teachers develop mathematical power for all students.

Design and development

The standards were prepared by a commission of professional mathematics educators, including teachers, as a set of guidelines for the implementation of the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for Mathematics, which were released in 1989.

There are two underlying assumptions that guided the development of the Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics: teachers are the key persons for the way mathematics is taught and learned in schools, and change requires that teachers have long-term, sustained support, and adequate resources.



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