One More Report to be (De)Filed
Charles Coble and Michael Allen, Education Commission of the States, have released the report Keeping America Competitive: Five Strategies To Improve Mathematics and Science Education (July 2005).
Based on presentations at the 2004 NSF/Wingspread conference, the report builds an argument for the importance of mathematics and science education to U.S. global competitiveness and the performance of U.S. students on recent national and international tests. In addition to providing data about "the rising threat to American competitiveness," the report suggests five key strategies to policymakers, university leaders, education researchers, and mathematics and science educators:
The report continues by offering specific suggestions under each strategy...but why? You could guess what most of these suggestions are...as they have been suggested before...and unfortunately, be suggested again on a regular basis.
- To effectively assess student learning in math and science
- To strengthen teacher knowledge and skills in science and math
- To ensure high-quality math and science teachers are available to the most disadvantaged students
- To ensure strong leadership from the higher education community, especially from university presidents
- To promote public awareness of the importance of math and science education to the country's future
When will mathematics teachers (note: not a single mathematics teacher was involved in this conference) stand up and say this is what is really needed. For example, someone might suggest a focus on destructive elements such as grade inflation at the 6-16 grade levels, almost automatic grade-level matriculation policies, the negative impact of restrictive regulations and requirements that impede the teaching of mathematics on a daily basis, the growing abundance of AP/Honor courses involving students lacking fundamental skills and knowledge, and too many teachers continuing to teach mathematics even though they do not have anything close to either an understanding or enjoyment of mathematics (let alone "deep understanding"). Or, perhaps it is time to take on the highly inflamatory suggestion of having only mathematics specialists teaching mathematics on grade levels 3-12.
Basically-meaningless reports will continue to be produced...if only more time and money were spent discussing the real problems in math/science classrooms...which surprise!...would require involving actual math and science teachers in the discussions.