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Richard Lesh, Kathryn B. Chval, Karen Hollebrands, Clifford Konold, Michelle Stephan, Erica N. Walker and Jeffrey J. Wanko

For roughly 35 years, the NCTM Research Presession has been held 1 or 2 days prior to the NCTM Annual Conference—hence the word presession. Beginning with the 2014 meeting in New Orleans, the NCTM Research Presession will be rebranded as the NCTM Research Conference. This change of name is intended to emphasize the critical role that research should play in our efforts to improve mathematics education. The NCTM Research Committee thought this an appropriate occasion to invite Richard Lesh, who was instrumental in the founding of the Research Presession, to join the members of the current Research Committee in reflecting on its formation, the hopes he and other kindred spirits had in mind when they started it, and the current state and future of research in our field.

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James E. Tarr, Erica N. Walker, Karen F. Hollebrands, Kathryn B. Chval, Robert Q. Berry III, Chris L. Rasmussen, Cliff Konold and Karen King

During the past 2 decades, significant changes in mathematics curriculum standards and policies have brought greater attention to assessment instruments, practices, purposes, and results. In moving toward stronger accountability, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 (NCLB, 2002) mandates that school districts receiving funding under NCLB formulate and disseminate annual local report cards that include information on how students and each school in the district performed on state assessments. This mandate has not only facilitated a growth in state testing (Wilson, 2007) but also influenced the teaching of mathematics (Seeley, 2006). More recently, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) crafted and launched the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (NGA Center & CCSSO, 2010), which have been formally adopted by the vast majority of U.S. states and territories. The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) specifies standards for mathematical content by grade in K–8 and by conceptual categories at the secondary level and identifies key Standards for Mathematical Practice that should be present in K–12 instruction. The CCSSM represents an unprecedented initiative to raise academic standards in school mathematics that will inevitably influence the development of curriculum materials, teaching, and assessment practices.

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Michelle L. Stephan, Kathryn B. Chval, Jeffrey J. Wanko, Marta Civil, Michael C. Fish, Beth Herbel-Eisenmann, Clifford Konold and Trena L. Wilkerson

Mathematics education researchers seek answers to important questions that will ultimately result in the enhancement of mathematics teaching, learning, curriculum, and assessment, working toward “ensuring that all students attain mathematics proficiency and increasing the numbers of students from all racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic groups who attain the highest levels of mathematics achievement” (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2014, p. 61). Although mathematics education is a relatively young field, researchers have made significant progress in advancing the discipline. As Ellerton (2014) explained in her JRME editorial, our field is like a growing tree, stable and strong in its roots yet becoming more vast and diverse because of a number of factors. Such growth begs these questions: Is our research solving significant problems? How do we create a system and infrastructure that will provide an opportunity to accumulate professional knowledge that is storable and shareable as we work together to address significant problems (Hiebert, Gallimore, & Stigler, 2002)? How do we “facilitate research and development that is coordinated, integrated, and accumulated” (Lesh et al., 2014, p. 167)?

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Beth Herbel-Eisenmann, Nathalie Sinclair, Kathryn B. Chval, Douglas H. Clements, Marta Civil, Stephen J. Pape, Michelle Stephan, Jeffrey J. Wanko and Trena L. Wilkerson

In this commentary, we identify key influences on mathematics education that are largely outside the domain of the academic world in which most mathematics education researchers live. The groups that we identify–including the media, companies and foundations, and other academic domains–affect the public's perception of mathematics and mathematics education. Identifying this set of influences in particular is important because these groups often shape policymakers' viewpoints and decisions, but there is not always agreement between mathematics education researchers and these groups about the ways in which mathematics and mathematics education are framed. Whenever a conflict is brought to the foreground, it can be difficult to raise issues without appearing defensive or sounding querulous. It is helpful, then, to bring to bear a theory that can help us interpret this reality (Mewborn, 2005); theories can provide a way to encode, read, and examine a problem as well as offer insights into the design of new practices (Silver & Herbst, 2007). In this case, we use positioning theory to examine potential conflicts between mathematics education researchers and other groups because it offers interesting interpretive insights into the phenomenon and because it can lead to potential strategies for working toward different positionings for mathematics education researchers. We begin by explaining relevant ideas from positioning theory, including storylines, positions, and communication actions. We then use these ideas to highlight current storylines underlying communication by the abovementioned groups about mathematics and mathematics education and trace some of their historical and contextual roots. We argue that mathematics education researchers can intervene to shift these storylines and positionings and to have greater impact on policy, practice, and public perception in the future. Finally, we end by offering specific suggestions for beginning this work.