Setting Standards for Knowledge and Skills in Mathematics in Schools

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According to Hart & Martin (n.d, p4), high school students do not perform to satisfaction in mathematics, hence, there is need for standards to be established. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education so that they graduate from high school fully prepared for college and advanced careers. According to California World Class Math (2010), many California students always achieve the advanced and targeted level in mathematics.

California standards describe how to teach and they are very specific. In 1997, California adopted math standards and there was general approval from the society, but there was also criticism among some educators and others that the standards were too rigorous for the general population (California World Class Math, 2010). Indeed, “California provides funds for textbooks, teachers’ manuals, tests, and other instructional materials; following the state adoption of Math Standards in 1997, the Legislature set up a billion dollar textbook fund from 1998-2002” (California World Class Math, 2010). The chart below indicates how mathematics standards contributed to the rise of performance in mathematics, between 2002 and 2009.

Setting Standards for Knowledge and Skills in Mathematics in Schools
Source: California world class math, 2010.

The standards in English- language arts for California public schools has provided details on the skills, abilities and knowledge that are applicable to all students learning language arts in their respective grades. Students should be able to communicate well in listening, speaking, reading, and writing, as there are essential tools in a student’s life. This document covers kindergarten to grade twelve, in which students in the kindergarten level learn about letters, words, and sounds and apply the knowledge in construction of simple sentences.

In grade one; students are required to understand the basic features of reading in order to achieve fluent reading skills. They are also required to read, respond in writing or verbally, in correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization and correct spelling (California Board of Education, 2009, p.9). In other grades, sentence structure and vocabularies are emphasized. In spite of its length, this document covers word analysis, reading comprehension, literary response, writing strategies and applications, listening and speaking strategies. The document is specific and easy to follow.

California high school math’s standards aim at describing the various skills that trainers in mathematics should develop in their students. These standards cover all grades from kindergarten to grade 12, whereby; in grade K counting and cardinality are emphasized on, such that, the pupils are trained on how to count in sequence by comparing different numbers, for instance, from 1-100. Algebraic thinking involves understanding additions and subtractions. Geometry is also inclusive as it involves identifying, describing, analyzing, comparing, and composing shapes. In grade 1, operations and algebraic involve solving problems that require addition and subtraction, while counting is increased to 120. Measuring of data in terms of length and the knowledge of time telling and writing is emphasized on; geometry is also extended to this grade.

Differences of the standard documents

It is however evident that, the California high school math’s standards involve algebraic thinking, number and operations, measurement and data and geometry in all grades. However, from grade 8, statistics and probability, algebra and functions are inclusive. On the other hand, mathematical practices require students to persevere in solving the problems, reason quantitatively, and use of appropriate tools in solving mathematical problems. Moreover, the mathematic standards for high school include “number and quantity, algebra, functions, modeling, geometry, statistics and probability” (California’s mathematics standard, 2010, p.46).

However, the standards in English-language arts for California public schools has emphasized on skills, abilities, and knowledge that are applicable to all students learning language arts in their respective grades. Students are taught towards effective communication in listening, speaking, reading, and writing, as there are essential tools in a student’s life. Therefore, both documents have a different function in the student’s learning life; however, they both aim at student’s achievements.

Similarities between the standard documents reviewed

The education standards listed above give emphasis on the English language proficiency and communicating skills, which focus on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Therefore, the standards in the English and math’s documents are keen on language skills and ensure that students acquire these skills. In addition, these documents embrace kindergarten and all grades, while their standards create a vision for communication in languages. In each grade, the standards require the students to exercise and learn how to read, write, listen, and speak in English. The curriculums of these documents entail the usefulness of reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, while their standards focus on equity of all students whereby, resources, time, and support are provided to assist students in attaining the preferred skills.

It is through such communication skills that mathematics is made easier, in terms of counting and translating them to graphs and tables. These documents aim at ensuring that the standards drive the students towards achieving success in communication. In addition, they prepare students in the later lives of higher education and careers, by ensuring that they are armed with effective communication skills. In all documents, listening skills are derived from tape, DVD’s and CD-ROMS, which play a vital role in enhancing student’s listening skills. The main relationship of these documents is that they tend to focus on all grades, from kindergarten to grade 12, Giving details on each grade’s standards. In addition, both documents have the same objectives when it comes to the needs of students.

The California math standards are competitive internationally; this is as a result of the improved performance by students in mathematics. In addition, according to Dillon (2010), of New York Times, the Obama’s government has instilled new mathematics standards that expect the 8th grade students to use Pythagorean Theorem when finding distances between points. Mathematics standards aim at promoting equity and math’s power as a common goal for all students. Every student goes to school to attain knowledge on various subjects; therefore, these educational documents play a vital role in ensuring that all students obtain the required knowledge by setting standards that aim at assisting students in all grades throughout their school life. For a student to be successful in life, he/she must be capable of communicating with other citizens. Communication occurs in different types, verbally, written, listening, and reading; therefore, a student has to obtain these skills in order to relate to the outside world. These documents are well structured and detailed, hence providing relevant information for effective learning.

Teacher use of documents

Davis (1999), states that, effective learning is determined by a teacher’s ability to maintain students’ interests in a particular subject or course. Therefore, as a teacher, it is important to assist students in learning through interactions that involve teaching and then jogging the student’s mind by asking questions. This way, a student is able to improve on his listening skills, as he is required to answer questions thereafter. Introducing other mechanisms in class; for instance, CDs and DVDs, is not only advanced, but also entertaining to students, hence motivating them to listen and learn more. Teachers should also be able to assist students in class work and give room for questions before a lesson ends. This way, a student has ample time to get clarification on pressing matters.

The documents emphasize on the provision of enough time for teachers to teach and for students to learn effectively. Giving assignments to students on what was taught is very important, as assignments act as a challenge to a student while testing his listening skills in class. A teacher should be capable of positive feedback that supports students and creates an open and positive atmosphere for learning (Davis, 1999). Therefore, capitalizing on a student’s needs is essential as it contributes to student’s performance, as they are motivated by the learning method. As much as assignments are important, group discussions and class activities address the needs of students.

When students are involved in class activities, they may develop a passion for a particular subject since they have a chance of contributing their ideas. A teacher should never tell students something that they are capable of answering; this method of learning encourages participation in class. Mathematics is a subject that needs assessment regularly in order to measure the student’s understanding, therefore, as a teacher, it is important to ensure that students understand a particular topic before proceeding to the next topic. Therefore, teachers can refer to these documents in the provision of standard teaching and follow up on the required procedure and steps that enhance effective learning.


California Board of Education. (2009). English-language arts Content standards for California public schools; Kindergarten through grade Twelve. Web.

California World Class Math. (2010). Learn About California Math Standards. Web.

Davis, B. (1999). Motivating students. Web.

Dillon, S. (2010). States Receive a Reading List: New Standards for Education. The New York Times. Web.

Eric, W. Hart, W. and Gary, M. (N.d). Standards for High School Mathematics: Why, What, How? Web.

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ChalkyPapers. "Setting Standards for Knowledge and Skills in Mathematics in Schools." March 18, 2022.