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Michael D. Eisner College of Education

Math Standards - Grades 8-12

The standards for grades eight through twelve are organized differently from those for kindergarten through grade seven. In this section strands are not used for organizational purposes as they are in the elementary grades because the mathematics studied in grades eight through twelve falls naturally under discipline headings: algebra, geometry, and so forth. Many schools teach this material in traditional courses; others teach it in an integrated fashion. To allow local educational agencies and teachers flexibility in teaching the material, the standards for grades eight through twelve do not mandate that a particular discipline be initiated and completed in a single grade. The core content of these subjects must be covered; students are expected to achieve the standards however these subjects are sequenced.

Standards are provided for algebra I, geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, mathematical analysis, linear algebra, probability and statistics, Advanced Placement probability and statistics, and calculus. Many of the more advanced subjects are not taught in every middle school or high school. Moreover, schools and districts have different ways of combining the subject matter in these various disciplines. For example, many schools combine some trigonometry, mathematical analysis, and linear algebra to form a precalculus course. Some districts prefer offering trigonometry content with algebra II.

Table 1, “Mathematics Disciplines, by Grade Level,” reflects typical grade-level groupings of these disciplines in both integrated and traditional curricula. The lightly shaded region reflects the minimum requirement for mastery by all students.The dark shaded region depicts content that is typically considered elective
but that should also be mastered by students who complete the other disciplines
in the lower grade levels and continue the study of mathematics.

Many other combinations of these advanced subjects into courses are possible. What is described in this section are standards for the academic content by discipline; This document does not endorse a particular choice of structure for courses or a particular method of teaching the mathematical content.

When students delve deeply into mathematics, they gain not only conceptual understanding of mathematical principles but also knowledge of, and experience with, pure reasoning. One of the most important goals of mathematics is to teach students logical reasoning. The logical reasoning inherent in the study of mathematics
allows for applications to a broad range of situations in which answers to practical problems can be found with accuracy.

By grade eight, students’ mathematical sensitivity should be sharpened. Students need to start perceiving logical subtleties and appreciate the need for sound mathematical arguments before making conclusions. As students progress in thestudy of mathematics, they learn to distinguish between inductive and deductive reasoning; understand the meaning of logical implication; test general assertions; realize that one counterexample is enough to show that a general assertion is false; understand conceptually that although a general assertion is true in a few cases, it is not true in all cases; distinguish between something being proven and a mere plausibility argument; and identify logical errors in chains of reasoning. Mathematical reasoning and conceptual understanding are not separate from content; they are intrinsic to the mathematical discipline students master at more advanced levels.