How math is taught in U.S. schools is under scrutiny; here’s what’s at stake

April 2, 2007

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: eSchool News] — In a downtown hotel in New Orleans in mid-January, nearly two dozen math experts from around the nation gathered to report on their progress toward recommendations that could shape the future of math instruction in U.S. schools for years to come. The occasion was the fifth of 10 scheduled meetings of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Mathematics Advisory Panel, a 17-member panel appointed by President Bush last year. (The group also includes six unofficial members, consisting of representatives from various federal agencies.) Based on the model of the National Reading Panel, which has influenced reading instruction in the United States significantly over the last decade, the math panel is tasked with advising U.S. policy makers and educators on the effectiveness of various approaches to teaching mathematics.

It’s a topic of debate that has been heating up considerably over the last several years. In the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), U.S. students were ranked 15th in eighth-grade math skills, behind countries such as Australia and the Slovak Republic, while countries such as Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong are snagging the top rankings. “In general, there’s widespread recognition that the U.S. is not doing well in mathematics,” says Steve Ritter, chief product architect and founder of Carnegie Learning, a provider of mathematics curricula for middle and high school students. “We do, at best, average compared with other countries, and that’s below most developed countries. I don’t think anybody is satisfied.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]