NCTM standards for school mathematics and the school reform in Chile: A case on secondary schools

Date of Completion

January 2000


Education, Mathematics|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Collaborative, international research studies in education, particularly those involving different countries, are fairly recent. There has been increase in awareness of and concern for the international dimensions of mathematics education. Today educational researchers generally agree that the efficacy of an educational innovation may be evaluated by examining its implementation and operation in another country, and further, that new approaches to teaching may be found by observing classroom practices of teachers from other countries. ^ Over the last ten years, significant reform efforts on mathematics curricula, as well as on mathematics teaching practices, have been articulated in the United Sates by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). ^ In spite of these efforts, United States remains the target of both domestic and international criticism, due in part because of the continued poor showing of students in international mathematics competency tests such as the SIMMS (Second International Mathematics Study) and TIMSS (Third International Mathematics Study). ^ The Third International Mathematics and Sciences Study (TIMSS) helped to analyze how mathematics is taught around the world, and included reviews of successful teaching and learning approaches in various countries. These research suggests that it is the quality and content of instruction , as well as the rigor of the curriculum, which result in the relatively more successful showing of many countries vis-à-vis the United States. The curriculum offered in the United States is apparently less rigorous than that of other countries, and students are thus less likely to take advanced mathematics and science courses. Effort and the emphasis teachers put on effort, along with their belief about the importance of ability, may also contribute to the differences between U.S. students and those in other countries. The importance of international studies is not, in their ranking of countries per se, but in the information they provide about why other countries are successful. ^ Most countries involved in international assessment represent Eastern and Western Europe as well as Asia, an the United States. This study examines issues in mathematics educational reform in Chile, thus focusing attention on a geographic region disregarded by the research. It offers arguments that will contribute to the continuous efforts to find a better approach to secondary mathematics teaching and learning in the United States. This is important because the U.S. has an increasing population of Latino students and a growing concern for issues of equity. This study offers a critical analysis and comparison of the Chilean Secondary Mathematics School Curriculum and the American National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (2000), as well as the earlier Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1988). ^