Mathematics branch in the Ministry of Education conducted a meeting on 16th Feb. with the academics in the Math education field and as a decision of that meeting Department of Mathematics in the National Institute of Education conducted a fruitful meeting on last Friday (3rd March) to create a dialogue about Essential learning outcomes/ essential learning concepts (ELC) in mathematics.
According to the report of the math advisory committee (2014) ELC is defined as the indispensable content required to be learned in order to be considered a mathematically literate citizen who is also able to assess critically the social uses of mathematics.
As I understood, according to this definition, ELC is related to learning ELCs are obligatory parts that to be learned. Why should somebody has to learn that content? To become a mathematically literate person. Who is mathematically literate person? What are the characteristics of such a person? This definition tells us one such characteristic is the ability to assess critically the social uses of mathematics. What does that mean? . What are the social uses of mathematics? I think we have to discuss these things in depth to identify ELCs in the secondary math curriculum. Otherwise, we may mislead and confine only to the assessment taking it out from the learning.
The second question is that do we nee a curriculum revision for ELCs. My answer is' yes'. Because, if the use of ELCs is to make a mathematically literate person ELCs are the foundation stones or the philosophy of the curriculum. So, it is not like the hen or egg question. It decides the future of mathematics education. However, as we have to wait for another revision the best way is to identify the ELCs based on the existing curriculum for the time being.
Then the third question comes. If the ELCs are indispensable learning contents that to be required for mathematical literacy how can we evaluate that a person learned/possessed those things. In other words, how can we evaluate that a student reached to the particular ELCs. The Advisory committee report introduces BAL (Basic Achievement Level) which defines as the ability to demonstrate procedures and conceptual knowledge in solving problems in ELC (?). ( I have a doubt whether it is in ELC if we identify ELC correctly.) Anyway, if we clarify BAL it will provide an answer to our question. As I think for each ELC we have to identify levels or descriptors like European union language framework which shows different ability levels moving from a basic level to more advanced level. I believe this kind of framework can be used in summative as well as formative assessments.
I appreciate your views to build up a dialogue on this because it is timely need to identify ELCs in secondary mathematics curriculum and also to find answers for the above mentioned questions.