The National Strategy: Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life 2011-2020 called for a “learning outcomes” approach…to be incorporated into all curriculum statements at primary level. Since then, the NCCA has embarked on a review of the primary curriculum with language and mathematics being the first areas to be redeveloped using a learning outcomes approach.
It is generally agreed that Learning Outcomes are broad statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do after completion of learning. In the case of the draft Primary Mathematics Curriculum, the learning outcomes also set out big mathematical ideas for children’s learning. The outcomes represent a shift towards thinking about what children will learn rather than what is to be taught.
Learning Outcomes in the draft Primary Mathematics Curriculum will help teachers to:
- select what to teach and the best order in which to teach it
- choose the most appropriate teaching methods and learning tasks and experiences for the children in their specific classrooms
- improve assessment by linking methods to the intended Learning Outcomes thereby ensuring more authentic assessment
- provide more focused and helpful feedback to children.
Sharing Learning Outcomes with children will help them to:
- be clear about what they are meant to be learning in maths
- monitor their own progress
- be able to take greater control of their own mathematical learning.
Based on international research as described in NCCA’s Research Reports 17 and 18, the overarching aim of the draft Primary Mathematics Curriculum, to which the learning outcomes contribute, is the development of all children’s mathematical proficiency. This proficiency encompasses conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, adaptive reasoning, strategic competence, and productive disposition. Mathematical proficiency has been adopted as a key aim in policy documents on mathematics in many countries, for example, the US (CCSSM/NGA, 2010), New Zealand (Anthony & Walshaw, 2007) and Australia (ACARA, 2009).
The NCCA will publish the draft Primary Mathematics Curriculum for junior infants to sixth class in 2020 for consultation.