From: As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics by Tamar Lewin.
Across the nation, the reconsideration of what should be taught and how has been accelerated by a report in September by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the nation’s leading group of math teachers.
It was a report from this same group in 1989 that influenced a generation of teachers to let children explore their own solutions to problems, write and draw pictures about math, and use tools like the calculator at the same time they learn algorithms.
But this fall, the group changed course, recommending a tighter focus on basic math skills and an end to “mile wide, inch deep” state standards that force schools to teach dozens of math topics in each grade. In fourth grade, for example, the report recommends that the curriculum should center on the “quick recall” of multiplication and division, the area of two-dimensional shapes and an understanding of decimals.