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A high-quality mathematics program is essential for all students and provides every student with the opportunity to choose among the full range of future career paths. Mathematics, when taught well, is a subject of beauty and elegance, exciting in its logic and coherence. It trains the mind to be analytic - providing the foundation for intelligent and precise thinking.

To compete successfully in the worldwide economy, today's students must have a high degree of comprehension in mathematics. For too long schools have suffered from the notion that success in mathematics is the province of a talented few. Instead, a new expectation is needed: all students will attain California's mathematics academic content standards, and many will be inspired to achieve far beyond the minimum standards.

The standards focus on essential content for all students and prepare students for the study of advanced mathematics, science and technical careers, and postsecondary study in all content areas. All students are required to grapple with solving problems; develop abstract, analytic thinking skills; learn to deal effectively and comfortably with variables and equations; and use mathematical notation effectively to model situations. The goal in mathematics education is for students to:

  • Develop fluency in basic computational skills.
  • Develop an understanding of mathematical concepts.
  • Become mathematical problem solvers who can recognize and solve routine problems readily and can find ways to reach a solution or goal where no routine path is apparent.
  •  Communicate precisely about quantities, logical relationships, and unknown values through the use of signs, symbols, models, graphs, and mathematical terms.
  • Reason mathematically by gathering data, analyzing evidence, and building arguments to support or refute hypotheses.
  • Make connections among mathematical ideas and between mathematics and other disciplines.

The standards emphasize computational and procedural skills, conceptual understanding, and problem solving. These three components of mathematics instruction and learning are not separate from each other; instead, they are intertwined and mutually reinforcing.

Basic, or computational and procedural, skills are those skills that all students should learn to use routinely and automatically. Students should practice basic skills sufficiently and frequently enough to commit them to memory.

Mathematics makes sense to students who have a conceptual understanding of the domain. They know not only how to apply skills but also when to apply them and why they should apply them. They understand the structure and logic of mathematics and use the concepts flexibly, effectively, and appropriately. In seeing the big picture and in understanding the concepts, they are in a stronger position to apply their knowledge to situations and problems they may not have encountered before and readily recognize when they have made procedural errors.

The mathematical reasoning standards are different from the other standards in that they do not represent a content domain. Mathematical reasoning is involved in all strands.


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