Lack of 'Will' Cited in Math, Science Reform

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The lack of "will and commitment"to reform mathematics and science education is a greater obstacle to change than is a lack of knowledge about what needs to be done, according to a report by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

The report, "Raising Our Sights: Improving U.S. Achievement in Mathematics and Science," asserts that the United States can meet its national goal of being "first in the world" in math and science "only by addressing a broad range of issues [including] curriculum, standards, assessment, teacher preparation, and public support."

The current low levels of achievement in math and science, the report argues, result from "inadequate instruction," particularly for minority students, and a failure of the curriculum to "reflect the 'frontiers of knowledge' about how children learn best."

The report, prepared by the A.S.C.D.'s panel on U.S. achievement in math and science, includes four major recommendations for reaching the panel's suggested goals of"raising the achievement of all students to a level now accomplished by relatively few" and "increasing the quantity and quality of the 'pool' from which future specialists in mathematics, science, and engineering are drawn." They include:

  • Establishing national standards in math and science to influence curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
  • Promoting the responsible use of student assessment to help change instructional methods.
  • Taking "aggressive action" to improve teacher preparation.
  • Encouraging dialogue between leaders both within and outside the education community.

The panel also developed a lengthy list of specific recommendations to meet its goals, including:

  • Requiring all students to take math and science throughout their precollegiate education, including a full four years of both subjects in grades 9-12.
  • Improving the preparation of math and science teachers by encouraging districts to offer them "long-term, frequent staff development," requiring them to earn 10 units of higher-education courses in their field every five years, and eliminating the emergency licensing of teachers in these subjects.
    --P.W.

Vol. 11, Issue 14, Page 10

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