Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Kenneth Gold

Committee Members

Eileen Donoghue

Nicholas Michelli

Subject Categories



This study investigates how mathematics education policy and curriculum in New York City changed over the period from 1958 through 2002. It looks at the events leading up to the "new math" era, the "back to basics" movement, and the Standards movement initiated by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in 1989. Since this period is bounded by two important pieces of legislation, the National Defense Education Act (NDEA), 1958, and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) 2001 an assessment of the arguments for and against the federal intervention in education is essential.

The research methodology used for this study is the investigation and analysis of primary sources and secondary data. The primary sources consisted of archival data containing records of mathematics education policy decisions, reports of meetings of officials of the New York City Department of Education, and curricula reforms over the last fifty years. The secondary sources of data came from previous mathematics education studies in the research community, including national studies that had selected New York City as a local site. Also, major pieces of relevant scholarly work on mathematics education were consulted.

After a thorough review of the relevant literature and a careful study of the data obtained from the various source documents, it could be argued that notwithstanding the best efforts of many chancellors: a) the decline of the mathematics scores as students move from the elementary to the middle grades was never fundamentally better; b) the overall mathematics scores in grades 3 through 8 are still unsatisfactory; c) the achievement gap between students in poor neighborhoods and their more affluent counterparts is still cause for concern; and, d) there is still a persistent shortage of mathematics teachers in New York City schools. I further argue that since these problems have defied all attempts to solve them under the present system, it is obvious that a more concerted effort need to be made to understand the reason for these failures in the interest of the city‘s children.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

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