The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
1906 Association Drive
Reston, VA 22091
The NCTM is a seventy-five year old professional organization for mathematics teachers of
grades K-14. It contains approximately 106,000 members, of whom 79,000 are individual memberships.
The primary purpose of NCTM is to provide leadership in the
improvement of the teaching and learning of mathematics. To stimulate
students' interest and accomplishments in mathematics and to promote a
comprehensive education for every child, the Council has established
- To foster excellence in school mathematics curricula and
instructional programs, including assessment and evaluation
- To promote professional excellence in mathematics teaching
- To strengthen NCTM's leadership in mathematics education
The NCTM Statement on Algebra
The following text is based on the Presidential Address at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the NCTM in
Indianapolis, IN 14, April 1994. Mary M. Lindquist was President
First-year algebra in its present form is not the algebra for everyone. In fact, it is not the algebra for most high school graduates today.
Weaknesses of First Year Algebra in its present form:
They advance only a narrow range of by-hand skills for transforming, simplifying, and solving symbolic expressions, most often divorced from any natural context.
As a separate course, they effectively isolate the concepts and methods of algebra from the other major strands of school mathematics: statistics, geometry, and discrete mathematics.
They neither acknowledge nor encourage the development of informal understanding of algebraic ideas in grades K-8.
The first step toward algebra for everyone is a reconceptualization of the algebra strand within the fabric of school mathematics.
The reconceptualization of the algebra strand of the high school curriculum should be guided by the following two general principles about goals and teaching approaches to the subject:
The primary role of algebra at the school level is to develop confidence and facility in using variables and functions to model numerical and quantitative relations -- both within pure mathematics and in a broad range of settings in which numerical data are important.
The use of graphing calculators and computers makes the focus on modeling and functions attractive and accessible for students across a broad range of interests, aptitudes, and prior achievement. The use of these calculating tools will offer students a variety of powerful new learning and problem-solving strategies.
(last updated September 17, 1996)