Designing mathematics standards in agreement with science
JudithAnn R. Hartman 1 , Sarah Hart 2 , Eric Alan Nelson 3 * , Paul A. Kirschner 4 5
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1 Department of Chemistry (Emerita), United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, USA2 Broad View Elementary School, Oak Harbor, WA, USA3 Fairfax County Public Schools (Retired), Fairfax, VA, USA4 Faculty of Educational Sciences (Emeritus), Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, THE NETHERLANDS5 Expertise Center for Education and Learning, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, Antwerp, BELGIUM* Corresponding Author


To learn mathematics, historically students had no choice but to memorize fundamental facts and apply memorized algorithms. Since 1995 in the US, all states have adopted standards to govern K-12 mathematics instruction, and in most, standards have de-emphasized memorization and emphasized reasoning based on concepts. This change assumed the brain could reason in mathematics without relying on memorized knowledge. Scientists who study the brain have recently verified this assumption was mistaken. Due to stringent limitations in working memory (where the brain solves problems), mathematical problem-solving of any complexity requires applying well-memorized facts and procedures. A decade after the implementation of standards in most states, US young adults ranked last in testing in mathematics among 22 nations. Changes are proposed to state K-12 standards, which recent scientific research suggests would substantially improve student mathematics achievement.


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Article Type: Review Article

INT ELECT J MATH ED, Volume 18, Issue 3, August 2023, Article No: em0739

Publication date: 01 Jul 2023

Online publication date: 11 Apr 2023

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