Americans are constantly barraged with facts and figures they are asked to interpret, from results of the latest political poll to changes in the consumer-price index. Yet most students are not even exposed to quantitative reasoning in school, according to a national committee of mathematics teachers and statisticians composed of members of the American Statistical Association and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
To help students cope with "an information society," the committee has developed four workbooks on the use of probability and statistics to solve everyday problems.
More than 50 schools throughout the nation will test the workbooks this school year.
The committee, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, also plans to conduct five sessions around the country to help teachers learn how to teach quantitative reasoning.
And the group is working to develop guidelines on what areas of statistics and probability should be taught at each grade level from kindergarten through grade 12.
Minnesota students who are not challenged enough by the mathematics courses offered in their local schools now may take a crack at advanced mathematics through the University of Minnesota's Talented Youth Mathematics Project, which is serving 433 students this year.
The program enables students to take accelerated courses in high-school and college-level mathematics.
The program, which is funded primarily by the state, employs local high-school and college teachers to instruct the students.
A task force on science, technology, and society formed by the National Science Teachers Association and affiliated organizations has developed a preliminary draft of criteria that schools can use to evaluate their science and technology programs.
According to the draft statement, science-technology-society (s\t\s) educational programs should include these essentials:
An opportunity to compare and contrast science and technology and to consider the differing roles the two have played in society in the past and at present.
A presentation of scientific and technological knowledge in the context of day-to-day experiences related to the lives of students and their families.
An opportunity for students to learn decisionmaking strategies relevant to "real-life" problems related to science and technology.
An exposure to scientific and technological information through a variety of sources, including traditional methods (such as libraries) and use of computer-generated models and databases.
The use of a variety of instructional strategies to expose students to the values and ideas of others.
And the use of nontraditional techniques for evaluating students, including an emphasis on logical reasoning.--lo