American Association for the Advancement of Science
In a rigorous analysis of 12 middle school mathematics textbooks, only four recently published series received high ratings, while the other more well-established textbooks were rated as unsatisfactory, according to Project 2061, the long-term math and science education reform initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"The good news is that there are excellent math textbooks now available for middle school students. It is imperative that these books become the textbook of choice in more classrooms if we are to reach our goal of developing students who are math and science literate," stated Dr. George Nelson, director of Project 2061.
The evaluation was conducted by independent analysis teams made up of classroom teachers and college and university faculty who had extensive knowledge of mathematics content and of research on teaching and learning. Using a procedure developed by Project 2061, the analysts evaluated textbooks on how likely they are to help students achieve six key learning goals from Project 2061's landmark "Benchmarks for Science Literacy." These benchmarks are consistent with the widely accepted standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The benchmarks deal with number and geometry concepts and related skills, as well as algebra equation concepts, and algebra graph concepts.
A key feature of the Project 2061 evaluation is its analysis of how successfully the textbooks supported teachers in their efforts to help students learn. The analysis teams reviewed specific instructional strategies that textbooks provide for each benchmark idea or skill. To evaluate the quality of these strategies, the analysts applied a set of 24 research-based instructional criteria to specific lessons, activities, teacher notes, assessments and other evidence.
* There are a few excellent middle-grades mathematics textbook series. * The best series contains both in-depth mathematics content and excellent instructional support. * Most of the textbooks do a satisfactory job on number and geometry skills. * A majority of textbooks do a reasonable job in the key instructional areas of engaging students and helping them develop and use mathematical ideas.
* There are no popular commercial textbooks among the best rated. * Most of the textbooks are inconsistent and often weak in their coverage of conceptual benchmarks in mathematics. * Most of the textbooks are weak in their instructional support for students and teachers. * Many textbooks provide little development in sophistication of mathematical ideas from grades 6 to 8, corroborating similar findings of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study. * A majority of textbooks are particularly unsatisfactory in providing a purpose for learning mathematics, taking account of student ideas, and promoting student thinking.
"States and school districts are bombarded with information from textbook publishers claiming their materials are aligned with benchmarks and standards. The Project 2061 analysis gives busy educators the solid information they need to make informed choices about which textbooks will help their students improve their understanding of and skills in mathematics," stated Dr. Gerald Kulm, who led Project 2061's evaluation. "It's important to note that our analysis describes a textbook's potential for helping students learn-to be used effectively, excellent materials require excellent and well-trained teachers."
As benchmarks and standards for student learning become the focus of education reform efforts in more states and school districts, textbooks play an increasingly important role. The National Education Goals Panel, for example, has characterized textbooks as "the nation's de facto curriculum," calling for "an independent and credible 'consumer reports' review service" to inform educators, policymakers, and the general public about "the degree to which instructional materials are aligned with challenging academic standards...." This evaluation answers that call.
"Middle Grades Mathematics Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation" is available online at http://project2061.aaas.org/matheval/index.htm. Print copies will be available at a later date from Project 2061. For more information, contact Mary Koppal, (202) 326-6643, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. ----------------------------------------------- Project 2061 staff:
Gerald Kulm, Program Director Laura Grier, Project Coordinator Kathleen Morris, Senior Program Associate Mary Koppal, Communications Director Susan Shuttleworth, Assistant Editor
The analysts who reviewed and rated the text were experienced mathematics teachers, and university mathematics and mathematics education faculty, trained in the use of the Project 2061 procedure. The reviewers were evenly divided between experienced, practicing classroom teachers and mathematics educators who were knowledgeable about research on mathematics learning and teaching. All of the reviewers were highly capable in mathematics content.
Reviewers were formed into 12 two-person teams, at least one of whom was an experienced classroom teacher. The reviewers were:
Donna Cook, Crossett Brook Middle School (VT) Joe Cook, Paige Academy (NY) Michele Crowley, Northern Kentucky University Peg Darcy, Louisville Schools (KY) Mark Deegan, Springfield (VA) High School Sassan Dehghan, University of Maryland Kay Dighans, Quaw Elementary School (MT) Florence Fasanelli,Washington, DC Ben Flora, Morehead State University (KY) Mary Ellen Foley, Louisiana State University - Shreveport Steve Hayes, Largo High School (MD) Willis Johnson, University of Kentucky. Bill Kunnecke, Marshall County (KY) Schools Jan McDowell, Noe Middle School (KY) Alice Mikovch, Western Kentucky University Joan Montgomery, Pilgrim Christian Academy (NY) Linda Montgomery, Berea County (KY) Schools Sue Reehm, Eastern Kentucky University Kay Rienke, Oklahoma State University Patty Schumacher, Telford County (PA) Schools Faye Stevens, Cadiz County (KY) Schools Diane Surati, Crossett Brook Middle School (VT) James Telese, University of Texas - Brownsville Sri Viswanathan, Fairfax County (VA) Schools Connie Widmer, Northern Kentucky University Grace Wood, Fort Peck Community College (MT)
Textbook Series Reviewed:
Connected Mathematics. Dale Seymour Publications, 1998 Heath Mathematics Connections. D.C. Heath and Company, 1996 Heath Passport. McDougal Littell, 1996 Math Advantage. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1998 Math 65, Math 76, Math 87. Saxon Publications, 1997, 1995 Mathematics in Context. Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation, 1998 Mathematics: Applications and Connections. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1998 Mathematics Plus. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994 Mathscape. Creative Publications, 1998 Middle Grades Math. Prentice Hall, 1997 Middle Grades Math Thematics. McDougal Littell, 1999 Middle School Math. ScottForesman-Addison Wesley, 1998 Transition Mathematics. ScottForesman, 1995
Note: Although we analyzed Math 65, Math 76, Math 87 ( Saxon Publications, 1997, 1995), this series' philosophy, organization, and format (e.g., its teacher edition provides answers to exercise problems but no instructional guidance or support; its student edition is organized by daily lessons rather than units or chapters) were not well suited to a benchmarks-based evaluation. The Saxon series is not included in the overall comparison of textbooks, but a report on our analysis of it is available in Part 3.
************************************* * 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: email@example.com