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ERIC Number: ED531143
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Science and Mathematics Education. Education Policy White Paper
Kilpatrick, Jeremy, Ed.; Quinn, Helen, Ed.
National Academy of Education (NJ1)
Not since the launch of the Soviet Sputnik satellite spurred the federal government to begin investing in science and mathematics education through the National Defense Education Act have these two areas of the school curriculum been so high on state and federal policy agendas. Policy makers, business leaders, educators, and the media again worry that future United States expertise in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is in jeopardy. Improving public education, particularly in science and mathematics, continues to be viewed as an important national economic and social issue. These concerns have led to the formulation of many local, state, and national education policies that include elements such as targeted scholarships, increased course-taking requirements for graduation, end-of-course exams in high school, investments in labs and equipment, and in some cases, higher pay to attract teachers to these fields. These efforts are worthy. But, they are not enough. They are scattered and incoherent--even "within" states and school districts--and neglecting this lack of coherence will limit what can be accomplished. Cross-state initiatives, with federal assistance, are needed to increase coherence and build the capacity of schools and districts across the country to provide high quality science and mathematics instruction. Reforms of the scale needed will likely take decades to come to full fruition and will require both patience and unrelenting effort and focus. But the fundamental tasks that must be taken on are clear. They include rethinking the curriculum and standards, and providing a small set of coherent teaching options that meet the needs of different state constituencies. The nation must begin now to formulate a path and take initial steps toward a coherent system of educational opportunities in science and mathematics for all students. This paper offers the following recommendations: (1) The federal government should strengthen the pre-kindergarten through 8th grade science and mathematics curriculum by supporting the National Science Foundation to fund the development of several curricula that focus on core concepts and skills, thereby preparing all students to succeed in high school. The materials should include related curriculum support materials, professional development tools, and assessments; (2) High school course sequences and curricula in science and mathematics should be rethought and redesigned; (3) The federal, state, and district officials responsible for assessment should ensure that assessments in science and mathematics measure higher levels of thinking and reasoning as well as students' content knowledge and skills; (4) Improve the preparation, professional development, and work conditions (including remuneration) of science and mathematics teachers in order to attract and retain individuals who are competent in teaching these challenging subject matters; (5) In funding curriculum development in science and mathematics, federal agencies should ensure that these efforts include comprehensive technology-based instructional and assessment resources; and (6) Federal and state policy makers should establish a research and development cycle to sustain and improve science and mathematics education nationally. (Contains 53 notes.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Academy of Education