Students meet expectations, period. They want to know the minimum line, they will test you for it, but once they know where it is most will work to be just above it. They may not want to do math, but they will -- they do just the minimum they need. (Very few won't do... those that can't/don't take some other pushing.)
The key is to hold high expectations and not to allow less than quality work and understanding to receive a passing grade. Don't allow soft projects to replace mastery. Don't let the nice student by, that is a disservice to their future - better to be the hard-ass today so the students succeed tomorrow -- in the real world, where multiple chances are rare.
But don't confuse school and the real world -- while multiple chances are not the norm in the world, they should be in school. It is the subtle difference between school and jobs. School is the student's job but there is no immediate paycheck, or product/service to produce, I don't go out of business because a student did not do their work today or did not learn today. In the world nearly every day counts, at school that is not the reality. Just like I cannot fire a student, I could fire people in the world as a boss - but that is not a school's purpose.
A school's purpose is to educate a student. Not to provide just the opportunity for the student to learn but to stand on their head and make sure that minimum standards are achieved. It means multiple opportunities - it means follow thru. Telling a student they don't have to do homework is not the solution, they need the skill --- yes in a workplace it would be too late, but school is not a workplace! The school does not absolutely require every student to believe in the mission to be successful - most workplaces require employees working towards the business's mission.
I believe teachers have to have high expectations. Our job is to then push, encourage and even beg our students to work hard to get over the line. And I can hear some talking about teaching responsibility (or this does not teach it...) - but school does not teach responsibility! Playing school does not make you a good employee, boss or leader. That old phrase A students work for C Students comes to mind; but the key is that we make all our students have those basic math and problem solving skills.