The New York Times reports that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued a report urging that from now on, math instruction in kindergarten through eighth grade should focus on a few basic skills. This represents a major shift from its influential recommendations issued 17 years ago. The new “Curriculum Focal Points” report could signal a far-reaching change in the way math is taught in American schools. Currently, most states call for dozens of math topics to be taught in each grade. However, the new report calls for just three basic skills for each grade level. For example, the fourth-grade criteria recommends that curriculum should center on “quick recall” of multiplication and division, understanding of decimals, and the area of two-dimensional shapes. The council’s 1989 report was widely influential, and is viewed as an important factor in moving the nation away from rote learning and towards an approach that let students find their own approaches to problems. The newest report avoids taking a stand on instructional methods, and is viewed by some as a “back-to-basics victory.” … (Note: This site requires free registration.)