I'm forwarding materials for the NCSM listserv on behalf of Judy Wurtzel and the Mathematics Initiative team here at the U.S. Department of Education. I've attached below a few introductory paragraphs and a document we distribute that provides an overview of the different Mathematics Initiative efforts underway. Please e-mail me if you'd like an electronic file of the overview document.
The U.S. Department of Education has established 7 priorities that guide its work. One of them is ensuring that U.S. students master challenging mathematics, including the foundations of algebra and geometry, by the end of the 8th grade. The Department has put in place a Mathematics Initiative to help coordinate Department efforts to reach this goal.
Those of us working on this Initiative would like to share information with NCSM on a regular basis. We hope that these posts provide helpful information and elicit further conversation. This first post provides an overview of the different Mathematics Initiative efforts underway. Future posts will focus on specific activities and/or interesting new Mathematics Initiative developments.
Please send any comments you have on the overall initiative, requests for further information, or feedback on this working document to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Thanks very much for your time and interest.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION MATHEMATICS INITIATIVE
Helping all students master challenging mathematics, including the foundations of algebra and geometry, by the end of the 8th grade
President Clinton's 1997 State of the Union address outlined several national priorities in education. One of the key priorities is that all students be able to master challenging mathematics, including the foundations of algebra and geometry, by the end of the 8th grade. To reach this goal, President Clinton asked the Department of Education to support the development of a voluntary national test in mathematics at the 8th grade. In addition, the Department has put in place a mathematics initiative focusing on 6 core strategies.
The 6 key strategies are: (1) build public understanding and engagement; (2) improve the preparation of future teachers of mathematics; (3) develop opportunities and incentives for more effective professional development of teachers of mathematics; (4) assist schools in upgrading curriculum by providing them with good information about existing materials, guidance in selection and implementation, and spurring development of effective supplementary materials; (5) increase capacity of federal programs to improve mathematics instruction; and (6) build a research and evaluation base.
Below are some of the key activities underway in the mathematics initiative to support these strategies. Many are collaborative efforts with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal agencies, as well as with professional organizations.
BUILDING PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING
Public Understanding and Engagement in Mathematics Initiative. NSF and the Department will support a joint, multi-year effort to create a large-scale, national public education effort that is coupled with extensive opportunities for active engagement of students, parents, and the larger community in the support of mathematics education. The project will: (1) use simple and compelling messages to tell the public what middle school students should know and be able to do in mathematics; (2) place an emphasis on important mathematics and interesting problems that engage middle school students, parents and the general public; (3) illustrate the relevancy of challenging mathematics to success in college and a wide range of careers; (4) foster and create active partnerships to engage the public; (5) mobilize adult volunteers to assist students in doing high-quality mathematics problems in a variety of settings; (6) provide high-quality printed and Internet-based support materials as guides for volunteers; and (7) sponsor highly visible local and national events and activities that engage the community which would include such things as math fairs, business sponsored contests, etc. (To see a copy of the request for proposals recently released for this initiative see .)
Wide Dissemination of Clear, Research-Based Information. The Department recently released a report entitled "Mathematics Equals Opportunity," which shows that early exposure to algebra, geometry and other rigorous math courses opens the gate to college and successful careers, especially for students from low-income families. The Department also sent a letter with information on TIMSS to all school board chairs and has developed articles and op-eds for the Wall St. Journal and elementary and middle school journals. Other planned articles or reports include an article on using Title I to support challenging mathematics, a checklist on using federal programs to improve mathematics education, and a paper placing the TIMSS findings in a research context.
BUILDING LEADERSHIP CAPACITY
National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Convocation on Middle School Mathematics. In coordination with the Department and NSF, the NAS will hold a convocation on middle school mathematics, bringing together practitioners, policymakers and researchers interested in ways to improve instruction in the middle school years. The Convocation, to be held this summer, is intended to initiate a continuing national dialogue on these issues.
NAS Leadership Institute on Standards-Based Mathematics and Science Education. The National Research Council will sponsor two leadership academies for approximately 80 state-level leaders in mathematics and the sciences. The primary goals of the Leadership Institutes are: (1) to extend mathematics and science education reform efforts within states; (2) to deepen state-level leaders understanding of standards-based reform and related policy and programmatic changes; and (3) to strengthen the capacity for sustaining efforts to improve mathematics and science education.
Standards for Preservice Preparation of Mathematics Teachers. The Department is funding an effort by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), in conjunction with the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and others who will be working over the next several years to develop voluntary standards and a framework for the mathematical preparation of teachers of mathematics and for their induction into the profession. Many of the participating organizations have produced frameworks and guidelines for various aspects of mathematics education, but a document has never been produced on the mathematical preparation of teachers with the support of the entire mathematics and mathematics education communities. The resulting materials will be published in concert with the publication of the revised NCTM standards for K-12 education.
National Conference on Maximizing Impact of Federal Resources. The Department and NSF will bring together representatives from Title I, Eisenhower, and NSF-sponsored projects to discuss ways in which coordination of these programs can improve mathematics instruction, especially for children in high poverty schools throughout the country.
TIMSS Resource Kit. Because the TIMSS results have significant implications for American education, the Department produced a resource kit to be used in professional development settings with educators as well as with community members in order to spark a discussion on the implications of the study for practice in the United States. The kit includes: materials on the results of the international comparisons in mathematics and science; a module on the results of the study of teaching in Japan, Germany and the United States with a 70 minute video; and, a module on methods for analyzing curriculum against international, national or state standards. The kit, including a CD-Rom version, is being widely disseminated in partnership with the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, the Eisenhower Regional Consortia, and professional organizations including NCTM, NSTA and AFT.
NAS Continuing to Learn from TIMSS Project. The main goal of the work of this project is to extend and deepen the efforts to promote standards-based reform by drawing on the perspectives, methodologies, and findings of TIMSS. Expanding on the work already done with the TIMSS resource kit, the NAS will produce two reports over the next two years, each to be accompanied by a guide for professional development that will facilitate use of the reports by the K-12 mathematics and science education community. In addition to the reports and professional development guides, the Council will organize workshops to develop, pilot, and introduce the materials to leaders in K-12 mathematics and science education and to gather feedback concerning secondary analysis of the TIMSS data. As a culminating activity, the Council will host a convocation for policymakers and practitioners to examine TIMSS.
"What Works" in Professional Development in Mathematics. This publication will describe model inservice professional development programs in mathematics. The monograph will describe various kinds of professional development strategies and what purposes they serve in expanding the skills and knowledge of teachers. Accompanying the explanation of each strategy will be descriptions of successful programs that embody the professional development opportunity described. The monograph will be based on the work of Susan Loucks-Horsley in professional development in science and mathematics.
Roadmap for the Mathematical Preparation of Elementary and Middle School Teachers. A publication is being prepared in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and a wide range of professional organizations to highlight model teacher preparation programs in mathematics. The publication will provide general principles of exemplary preparation in mathematics. It is intended to stimulate reform in undergraduate mathematics teacher preparation programs among departments of mathematics and schools of education.
Materials to Support Local School Districts Prepare for the Voluntary National Test in Mathematics. Through a contract with WestEd, a Regional Education Laboratory, the Department will seek input from a wide variety of educators and then develop materials that will assist states, districts and schools in using the voluntary national mathematics test to spur improvements in teaching and learning. These materials are expected to include the following. First, a comprehensive guide to the expectations embodied in the NAEP framework for mathematics, with sample questions, student responses, and rubrics on which the responses are judged. Second, materials to assist states and school districts assess how their curriculum matches the expectations in the NAEP framework and the specification for the national test. Third, materials that identify training needs on the use of the curriculum review materials and effective materials, as well as professional development opportunities and curriculum materials that would assist schools. A Web site will be developed with these materials.
Identifying Promising and Exemplary Curricula. As part of a larger effort to provide good information and support to assist teachers and communities in selecting and implementing high quality curricula, the Department will develop a guide to exemplary and promising mathematics curricula and programs. Based on specific legislative authority, the Department has convened an expert panel to review materials and make recommendations.
SOURCES OF ASSISTANCE AND INFORMATION
For more information on TIMSS, consult the World Wide Web site at .
For more information about the Voluntary National Tests in Reading and Math, visit the World Wide Web site at .
For more information on the Mathematics Initiative, visit the World Wide Web site at , or contact Judy Wurtzel, Director at (202) 401-3281 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or John Luczak at (202) 205-7848.