The first Primary Mathematics curriculum was developed in 1981 by CDIS (Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore), now called CPDD (Curriculum Planning & Development Institute of Singapore). The Primary Mathematics Series was first published in 1982 and was the only series used in Singapore primary schools until 2001. The 1981 curriculum focused on content (e.g. computation), and problem solving did not receive a prominent role.
The 1981 curriculum was revised in 1992 to make it a problem solving curriculum. The 1992 curriculum required pupils to be able to do some problem solving, i.e., the use of (simple) math in novel / complex situations. The Primary Mathematics (Second Edition) was based on the 1992 curriculum.
The Primary Mathematics (Second Edition) was published for Primary 1 in 1991, for Primary 2 in 1992, Primary 3 in 1992, Primary 4 in 1992, Primary 5 and 6 in 1995.
From 1992-1994, there was no significant changes to the curriculum. However, content was further reduced in 1994.
The Primary Mathematics (Third Edition) for Primary 1 and 2 were based on the 1994 reduced syllabus.
1999 Reduced-Content curriculum
In 1999, Singapore's Ministry of Education decided to reduce the content in the curriculum in order to provide room for teachers to implement key initiatives (namely the infusing of thinking skills and integrating the use of Information Technology in lessons and the delivery of the National Education messages). Curriculum content was reduced by up to 30% for most subjects.
The content removed or reduced from the subject syllabuses includes the following:
Please see press release "Content Reduction in the Curriculum"
- Concepts or skills which are not fundamental to the essence of the subject studied or which rely on plain recall
- Content which overlaps with that taught at other levels in the same subject or with what is taught in other subjects
- Content which focuses on technical details rather than conceptual understanding and is no longer relevant in the Singapore context or in real world practice
- Content which is too difficult or abstract for the intended level
The Primary Mathematics (Third Edition) was published for Primary 3 in 1999, Primary 4 in 2000, Primary 5 in 1999 and Primary 6 in 2000. The Third Edition was a further refinement to the Second Edition so that the aims of the 1992 syllabus were better met.
One of the major chapters removed from Primary Mathematics (Second Edition) was "Division of Fractions". This chapter was reinserted in our
Primary Mathematics (US Edition).
All the new series (first published in 2001) are based on the 1999 reduced-content syllabus.
2001 Singapore Primary Math curriculum
In 2001 implementation of the the second stage of the 1999 content reduction for curriculum commenced. This stage involved changes in teaching methodologies, learning approaches and assessment modes. Three initiatives were also introduced - National Education (to develop citizenship skills and values in the Singapore context), Information Technology (to bring hardware and software technology into schools. However, for the new primary math series, the IT content is found only in the teacher's CD ROMs. It is not mentioned in the textbooks or workbooks, as the IT materials are not reviewed by MOE), and Critical and Creative Thinking (to infuse thinking skills).
Starting from 2001, textbooks for primary level mathematics have been privatized with the hope that the changes will be faster and there will be more choices. The content in the new series that was first published in 2001 remained the same as the 1999 reduced syllabus.
Please see press release
2005 onward ...
Will there be another revision of the Singapore mathematics syllabus in the near future? Yes. Textbooks first published in 2001 were revised in 2007. Changes in 2007 (for texts now used in Singapore) included earlier introduction of calculators (in level 5), reduction in mental math, and removal of operations on compound units in measurement. The content of Primary Mathematics Series remains the same till these days.
What is AIR?
The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world.
What is the purpose of this study?
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the study
What the United States Can Learn From Singapore’s World-Class Mathematics System (and what Singapore can learn from the United States) identified major differences between the mathematics frameworks, textbooks, assessments, and teacher preparation in the U.S. and Singapore.
What else does the study include?
The study also includes initial results from four pilot programs that used the Singapore Math
® curriculum in place of their previous curriculum. The pilot programs involved students in Baltimore, Md., Montgomery County, Md., North Middlesex, Mass., and Paterson, N.J.
What Singapore Math® books did these pilot programs use?
All four pilot programs used the
Primary Mathematics series.
Where can I find the full AIR report?
Please visit the AIR web site for the