Teaching Secondary Mathematics - Supporting Resources

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

These tools and resources provide learning and teaching support for teachers of mathematics.

The learner at the centre

The underlying purpose of the Teaching Secondary Mathematics is to support schools and teachers make a difference to:

  • each student’s achievement in mathematics
  • each student’s experience of learning mathematics
  • each student’s capacity as a learner
  • each student’s growth as a community member.

At all times, the learner is at the centre of all decision making about learning. The suite of resources accessible through the Mathematics Domain page also supports mathematics teachers in placing the learner at the centre.

Victorian Essential Learning Standards

The Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) describe what is essential for all students to achieve from Years Prep to 10 in Victorian schools. The Mathematics domain is primarily dedicated to the development of Number, Space, Measurement, Chance and Data, Structure, and Working Mathematically.

Liaison between mathematics teachers and other school staff is necessary in order to encourage the complementary learning that can occur within other domains.  While teachers of mathematics have the primary responsibility to develop student mathematical understandings, there are mathematics demands within learning domains such as Science and Geography.  Aspects of mathematics learning that are certainly within other domains include:

  • using a scale on a map
  • critically analysing data and text containing quantitative information
  • reading measurements for experiments
  • interpreting graphs.

All teachers play a role in fostering students’ mathematics achievement and in making the connections between knowledge and application.  This multi-layered contribution to mathematics development is required to ensure that the planning and sequencing of mathematical experiences best supports student learning.

Principles of Learning and Teaching P–12

The Principles of Learning and Teaching (PoLT) P–12 comprises six principles that can be used by schools, teams of teachers and individuals to reflect on practice and support professional dialogue to strengthen pedagogical practices.

Students learn best when:

  1. The learning environment is supportive and productive.
  2. The learning environment promotes independence, interdependence and self-motivation.
  3. Students’ needs, backgrounds, perspectives and interests are reflected in the learning program.
  4. Students are challenged and supported to develop deep levels of thinking and application.
  5. Assessment practices are an integral part of teaching and learning.
  6. Learning connects strongly with communities and practice beyond the classroom.

For more information, go to:

The PoLT Online Professional Learning Resource Online Professional Learning Resource contains a number of classroom activity snapshots (vignettes) which focus on particular stages of learning and explore the principles in action within a mathematics classroom.

These two examples below reflect Principle 4: Students are challenged and supported to develop deep levels of thinking and application:

Assessment advice

Assessment is the ongoing process of gathering, analysing and reflecting on evidence to make informed and consistent judgements to improve future student learning.

Assessment for improved student learning and deep understanding requires a range of assessment practices to be used with three overarching purposes:

  • Assessment FOR learning occurs when teachers use inferences about student progress to inform their teaching.
  • Assessment AS learning occurs when students reflect on and monitor their progress to inform their future learning goals.
  • Assessment OF learning occurs when teachers use evidence of student learning to make judgements on student achievement against goals and standards.

The Mathematics Domain page contains a number of high quality assessment resources across the stages of learning.

  • Assessment for Common Misunderstandings (P – 10) provides assessment tools that expose students’ thinking, but it also requires an interpretation of what different student responses might mean and some practical ideas to address the particular learning needs identified. This is particularly important in relation to a relatively small number of ‘big’ ideas and strategies in Number, without which students’ progress in mathematics will be seriously impacted.
  • Scaffolding Numeracy in the Middle Years – The Learning and Assessment Framework for Multiplicative Thinking (LAF) brings together, in zones, the key ideas, strategies and representations of multiplication and division needed to work flexibly and confidently with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percentages across a wide range of contexts.
  • Mathematics Online Interview – This assessment is used by teachers in a one-on-one interview situation to determine students’ existing mathematical knowledge in relation to points of growth. Analysis of the responses provides teachers with powerful information to use when planning to meet student learning needs.
  • The Fractions and Decimals Online Interview provides a means of tracking students’ learning through significant ‘big ideas’ in Fractions, Decimals, Ratio and Percentages.  The interview consists of appropriate hands-on and mental computation assessment tasks where students can demonstrate mathematical understanding and preferred strategies for solving increasingly complex tasks.
  • Multi domain assessment: Sample task 7 – Understanding weather – This multi domain task focuses on Mathematics and Thinking Processes at Level 5. This sample task is for students to produce a structured written report based on analysis and interpretation of data related to weather patterns in a number of selected cities.

For more information, see:

Mathematics/numeracy reports

Currently there are two major reports which have informed the need to promote Mathematics/Numeracy initiatives in Victoria.  These are available from:

International studies of students’ mathematics achievement

Analysis of international studies of student achievement demonstrates that schools CAN make a difference to student achievement – it is not just home background that determines a student’s likelihood of success. 

A description of the results of these studies is provided on:

Further reading

Further information about teaching secondary mathematics is available from: