Many anti-reformists point to Singapore (due to its TIMSS scores) as the place to emulate. What the anti-reformists fail to realize is that the Singapore mathematics syllabus is very similar to standards based mathematics. Below appears statements directly from the 2007 primary math syllabus which reflects an emphasis on conceptual understanding, the use of calculators, and discovery (yes, constructivism in Singapore) - don't tell the anti-reformists!
The 2007 Primary Mathematics syllabus reflects the recent developments and trends in mathematics education. The revised syllabus continues to emphasize conceptual understanding, skill proficiencies and thinking skills in the teaching and learning of mathematics. These components are integral to the development of mathematical problem solving ability.
Advances in technology have changed the way we teach and learn mathematics. The computer and hand-held calculator, for example, offer great potential to enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics.
Students will have opportunities to discover, reason and communicate mathematics. They will engage in stimulating discussions and activities where they can explore possibilities and make connections. These qualitative changes require a change in the teaching and learning approaches; incorporating activity-based and learner-centered methodologies.
The rationale for introducing calculators to Singapore's students is to:
(1) Achieve a better balance between the emphasis on computational skills and problem solving skills in teaching and learning and in assessment
(2) Widen the repertoire of teaching and learning approaches to include investigations and problems in authentic situations
(3) Help students, particularly those with difficulty learning mathematics, develop greater confidence in doing mathematics