The beginning of every school year provides challenges to students from a variety of sources. This year's teachers may structure their classroom differently from last year's teachers. Teachers at the same grade level may place greater emphasis on different topics. Teachers' expectations for how students participate in instructional activities may differ. Students also face the problem of forgetting what they learned last year, especially if they have not used particular mathematical knowledge or skills over the summer months. Such annual challenges are minor in comparison with the challenges that students face during crucial transition points: from elementary school to middle school, from middle school to high school, and from high school to postsecondary education.
Janie Schielack is a professor in the mathematics department of Texas A&M University. For the past twenty-five years, she has been involved in improving the mathematics content preparation of preservice and in-service teachers in grades pre-K–12. She co-chaired the writing group for Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence.
Cathy L. Seeley, a past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and a senior fellow at the Charles A. Dana Center, is working on state and national policy in mathematics.