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Mathematical Abilities

  • Conceptual understanding
  • Students demonstrate conceptual understanding in mathematics when they provide evidence that they can recognize, label, and generate examples of concepts; use and interrelate models, diagrams, manipulatives, and varied representations of concepts; identify and apply principles; know and apply facts and definitions; compare, contrast, and integrate related concepts and principles; recognize, interpret, and apply the signs, symbols, and terms used to represent concepts. Conceptual understanding reflects a student's ability to reason in settings involving the careful application of concept definitions, relations, or representations of either.

  • Procedural knowledge
  • Students demonstrate procedural knowledge in mathematics when they select and apply appropriate procedures correctly; verify or justify the correctness of a procedure using concrete models or symbolic methods; or extend or modify procedures to deal with factors inherent in problem settings. Procedural knowledge encompasses the abilities to read and produce graphs and tables, execute geometric constructions, and perform noncomputational skills such as rounding and ordering. Procedural knowledge is often reflected in a student's ability to connect an algorithmic process with a given problem situation, to employ that algorithm correctly, and to communicate the results of the algorithm in the context of the problem setting.

  • Problem solving
  • Students demonstrate problem solving in mathematics when they recognize and formulate problems; determine the consistency of data; use strategies, data, models; generate, extend, and modify procedures; use reasoning in new settings; and judge the reasonableness and correctness of solutions. Problem-solving situations require students to connect all of their mathematical knowledge of concepts, procedures, reasoning, and communication skills to solve problems.


Last updated 5 September 2003 (JM)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education