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Mathematics for the Moment, Or the Millennium?


People in California are worried about the mathematical performance of their children. So worried that debates about the "right" way to teach mathematics have become so metaphorically bloody they have been termed the "math wars." Much of this concern has stemmed from students' performance on state and national tests, but nobody seems to have stopped at any point to question the value of the type of knowledge assessed on these tests. I would like to halt the debate for a moment in order to pose this question: Is success on a short, procedural test the measure we want to adopt to assess the effectiveness of our students' learning? In other words, do these tests assess the sort of knowledge use, critical thought, and reasoning that is needed by learners moving into the 21st century? [first paragraph]