Mathematical Proficiency for All Students

Toward a Strategic Research and Development Program in Mathematics Education

by Deborah Loewenberg Ball


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A clear need exists for substantial improvement in mathematics proficiency in U.S. schools. While the federal government and the nation's school systems have made significant investments toward improving mathematics education, the knowledge base supporting these efforts has generally been weak. The RAND Mathematics Study Panel was convened as part of a broader effort to inform the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement on ways to improve the quality and usability of education research and development (R&D). The panel has proposed a strategic R&D program supporting the improvement of mathematics proficiency, and equity in proficiency, among U.S. school students. The panel identified three areas for focused R&D-development of teachers' mathematical knowledge used in teaching, teaching and learning of skills needed for mathematical thinking and problem-solving, and teaching and learning of algebra from kindergarten through the 12th grade. The panel also recommends that the initial stages of the program include three key study areas: collecting evidence to support decisions concerning standards of mathematical proficiency, creating analytic descriptions of current instructional practice and curriculum in U.S. classroom, and developing measures of mathematical proficiency.

Table of Contents

  • Summary

  • Preface

    All Prefatory Materials

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Teachers' Mathematical Knowledge: Its Development and Use in Teaching

  • Chapter Three

    Teaching and Learning Mathematical Practices

  • Chapter Four

    Teaching and Learning Algebra in Kindergarten Through 12th Grade

  • Chapter Five

    Toward a Partnership Between Government and the Mathematics Education Research Community

  • Chapter Six


  • Supplemental

    Supplementary Materials

The research in this report was prepared for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, and was conducted within the RAND Science and Technology Policy Institute and RAND Education.

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