Mathematics standards and curricula in the Netherlands

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This paper addresses the question of what mathematics Dutch students should learn according to the standards as established by the Dutch Ministry of Education. The focus is on primary school and the foundation phase of secondary school. This means that the paper covers the range from kindergarten to grade 8 (4-14 years olds). Apart from giving an overview of the standards, we also discuss the standards’ nature and history. Furthermore, we look at textbooks and examination programs that in the Netherlands both have a key role in determining the intended mathematics curriculum. In addition to addressing the mathematical content, we also pay attention to the way mathematics is taught. The domain-specific education theory that forms the basis for the Dutch approach to teaching mathematics is called “Realistic Mathematics Education.” Achievement scores of Dutch students from national and international tests complete this paper. These scores reveal what the standards bring us in terms of students’ mathematical understanding. In addition to informing an international audience about the Dutch standards and curricula, we include some critical reflections on them.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)287-307
Number of pages21
JournalZentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Wiskunde en Informatica (WIIN)
  • Mathematics
  • Landbouwwetenschappen
  • Natuurwetenschappen
  • Wiskunde: algemeen

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