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John Luczak

Posts: 3
Registered: 12/4/04
NCSM listserv materials
Posted: Dec 29, 1997 11:05 AM
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NCSM listserv members,

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.

John Luczak


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 or Thanks very much for your
time and interest.



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.


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.


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


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,

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


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 <>, or John Luczak at
(202) 205-7848.

Working draft 12/97

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