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Do I Hear Echoes of The William Tell Overture?

Mathematics teachers are finding the current times challenging, frustrating, and exciting. One big problem is a lack of stability in learning goals, assessment standards, curricula, instructional techniques, and philosophies. Consensus is no longer an option. Teachers are expected to be decision-makers, but are not given the power to make decisions.

Where can a mathematics teacher turn to for information that has more merit than opinion? One possibility is The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement, a federally-funded clearinghouse. Their goal is to "help schools plan, implement, and sustain improvement efforts, by providing free, reliable information about research-based strategies and assistance in using that information to sustain positive change."

Though The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement is not specific to mathematics education, it does offer musch that is pertinent to mathematics and teaching/learning in general:

  • Free archived webcast on effective instruction in algebra (i.e. What is algebra? Why are students having trouble with it? What can teachers do to help these students be more successful?)
  • A "Mathematics Resources" page provides quality resources that seem to provdie a fair overview of the unstable situation in mathematics education
  • A searchable database with nearly 5000 abstracts of school improvement studies
  • Other webcasts and and a series of podcasts entitled Harnessing the Scientific Spirit to Improve Learning
  • Published materials (electronic newsletters, issue briefs, and research briefs) on topics pertinent to school improvement
  • A "Ask the Expert" service so teachers and administrators can get fast answers to questions about school improvement
  • Research-based guides, tools, and information to help schools increase academic achievement for all students
In summary, The Center and its resources is a good place to look for help. It does not offer "the" answer, but does provide tools and information relevant for each teacher's/school's search for answers. At the very least, sign up for their free newsletter (recent issue was Getting to "Got It!" Helping Mathematics Students Reach Deep Understanding).