[Attached below is the announcement of a new report and action plan from the Learning First Alliance. The full report is available online, or in hard copy ... this info courtesy of Pete Donahoe.]
EVERY CHILD MATHEMATICALLY PROFICIENT: AN ACTION PLAN
The Learning First Alliance Washington, DC
U.S. student scores in the math section of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) have increased since 1990, but American students continue to be outperformed by their counterparts from other countries. The Learning First Alliance, a consortium of 12 national education association, uses this information as a platform to design an action plan for improving the math skills of all U.S. students.
"Every Child Mathematically Proficient: An Action Plan" summarizes the need for change in K-12 math instruction and provides recommendations for reforming math programs in key areas, including curriculum, professional development, parent involvement and tapping research-based reforms.
A key goal for the Alliance is "for virtually all students to successfully complete a challenging K-12 mathematics curriculum that includes mastery of the content included in the two one-year Algebra I and Geometry courses by the end of grade nine." The Alliance decided to focus on algebra and geometry because these courses are "powerful gatekeepers" for entry to post-secondary education studies and key jobs.
"Every Child Mathematically Proficient" argues that upgrading middle school math is not "simply to require students to take a standard high school algebra course in seventh or eighth grade." Instead, the entire K-9 curriculum must be revamped to allow for a coherent transition from grade-school math to upper level math.
Professional development opportunities must be aligned with curriculum changes and new assessments, according to the report. The report argues that current in-service professional development programs in math fall far short of addressing inadequacies in the math training of pre-service teacher candidates. Appropriate professional development should occur over time, with teachers able to view effective teaching strategies, have time to practice these strategies and learn new mathematics "that will support their teaching practice," writes the report. Other recommendations regarding professional development include:
* Create a closer link between professional development programs and research in the teaching and learning of math in the middle grades;
* Enforce teacher licensure and certification requirements in school setting to recognize specialist teachers and to ensure that students have access to fully qualified teachers of math at all levels;
* Explore incentives to attract qualified individuals to math teaching.
The report also calls for continuing research in the field of teaching math and the application of solid research in the classroom. To make this happen, teachers should be included in all facets of research and the research should be translated into "strategies to improve the effectiveness of various instructional approaches, commercial and project materials, and the use of technology to foster student achievement and increase rates of student retention in school math programs."
"Every Child Mathematically Proficient" underscores the need for parental and public awareness and support for a challenging math program to benefit all children.
The report is available at www.learningfirst.org (see Publications), or from the National Education Association Professional Library at 800/229-4299 for a cost of $3.00. For more information about the Learning First Alliance, contact them at 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 335, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 296-5220, fax (202) 296- 3246.
***************************************** * Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA Fax: (618)453-4244 Phone: (618)453-4241 (office) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org