NCTM Rallies Around TIMSS Benchmarking as Guide For Improving Mathematics Education for All Schools

Apr 05, 2001, 01:00 ET from National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

    RESTON, Va., April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- "Our goal of achieving a high-quality
 mathematics education for all our nation's students can become a reality,"
 said Lee Stiff, President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
 (NCTM), in response to the new Benchmarking report by the Third International
 Mathematics and  Science Study (TIMSS).  "But to do this we must break down
 the barriers that have stopped the majority of our students from getting an
 equitable education."
     In response to the report's findings, Stiff noted that, "Too often we look
 at education to see what we are doing wrong. Now, we can look to the TIMSS
 1999 Benchmarking study, and the high-achieving districts, consortia, and
 states to see what we are doing right. The achievement scores of the top U.S.
 performers, such as the Naperville School District (Ill.) and the First in the
 World Consortium (Ill.) -- which ranked sixth and seventh in the world in
 international comparisons for math achievement at the 8th grade level --
 provide positive indications that, working together, we can improve our
 students' mathematics achievement."
     According to the report, there is no "one thing" that made high performing
 groups achieve. "It takes true systemic reform at all levels to effect
 positive change," Stiff noted, pointing out that large-scale change is needed
 to improve mathematics education. According to Stiff, this must entail:
 
     *  Having a focused, coherent curriculum that promotes rigorous
        mathematics through all four years of high school;
     *  Establishing standards with high expectations for all students to
        achieve;
     *  Providing equitable resources and access to a high-quality education
        for all students;
     *  Ensuring that assessments align with the curriculum to test student
        knowledge and gauge where strengths and weaknesses exist; and
     *  Providing professional development opportunities for teachers to
        enhance their understanding of mathematics and implement best teaching
        practices.
 
     TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking also held fast to previous TIMSS findings that
 "teaching matters," noting that higher student achievement is associated with
 teachers having a university degree in mathematics or mathematics education.
 According to the report, however, 8th grade students in the U.S. are more
 likely to be taught by teachers with degrees in education or other fields of
 study.
     "NCTM has long advocated for meaningful, sustained professional
 development for our teachers," Stiff said.  "Workshops, sessions and
 institutes, like those offered at the NCTM Annual Meeting taking place this
 week in Orlando, are just some of the many ways that teachers can enhance
 their mathematical knowledge and skills, network with colleagues, and learn
 about new teaching methods and appropriate instructional technologies."
     "Our political leaders are poised to make a decision on funding for the
 Eisenhower Professional Development program for math and science teachers. The
 TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking study provides further evidence that teachers, like
 all professionals, deserve ongoing opportunities to continue their
 professional development so that their students can benefit from their
 expertise," added Stiff.
     Another important finding of the TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking data is that
 higher mathematics achievement is realized when teachers emphasize reasoning
 and problem solving. Additionally, students in the Benchmarking jurisdictions
 generally followed the national pattern, doing above average in fractions and
 number sense, data representation and algebra, and performing less well in
 measurement and geometry.
     "Our students are learning the topics they are being taught. However, we
 need to teach more and better math -- with more emphasis on higher level
 mathematics that goes beyond the basics. This is the foundation of NCTM's
 'Principles and Standards for School Mathematics,'" Stiff concluded.
     With more than 100,000 members and approximately 250 affiliates located
 throughout the United States and Canada, NCTM is the world's largest
 organization dedicated to improving mathematics education from prekindergarten
 through grade 12. NCTM's "Principles and Standards for School Mathematics"
 provides guidelines for excellence in mathematics education.
 
 

SOURCE National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
    RESTON, Va., April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- "Our goal of achieving a high-quality
 mathematics education for all our nation's students can become a reality,"
 said Lee Stiff, President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
 (NCTM), in response to the new Benchmarking report by the Third International
 Mathematics and  Science Study (TIMSS).  "But to do this we must break down
 the barriers that have stopped the majority of our students from getting an
 equitable education."
     In response to the report's findings, Stiff noted that, "Too often we look
 at education to see what we are doing wrong. Now, we can look to the TIMSS
 1999 Benchmarking study, and the high-achieving districts, consortia, and
 states to see what we are doing right. The achievement scores of the top U.S.
 performers, such as the Naperville School District (Ill.) and the First in the
 World Consortium (Ill.) -- which ranked sixth and seventh in the world in
 international comparisons for math achievement at the 8th grade level --
 provide positive indications that, working together, we can improve our
 students' mathematics achievement."
     According to the report, there is no "one thing" that made high performing
 groups achieve. "It takes true systemic reform at all levels to effect
 positive change," Stiff noted, pointing out that large-scale change is needed
 to improve mathematics education. According to Stiff, this must entail:
 
     *  Having a focused, coherent curriculum that promotes rigorous
        mathematics through all four years of high school;
     *  Establishing standards with high expectations for all students to
        achieve;
     *  Providing equitable resources and access to a high-quality education
        for all students;
     *  Ensuring that assessments align with the curriculum to test student
        knowledge and gauge where strengths and weaknesses exist; and
     *  Providing professional development opportunities for teachers to
        enhance their understanding of mathematics and implement best teaching
        practices.
 
     TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking also held fast to previous TIMSS findings that
 "teaching matters," noting that higher student achievement is associated with
 teachers having a university degree in mathematics or mathematics education.
 According to the report, however, 8th grade students in the U.S. are more
 likely to be taught by teachers with degrees in education or other fields of
 study.
     "NCTM has long advocated for meaningful, sustained professional
 development for our teachers," Stiff said.  "Workshops, sessions and
 institutes, like those offered at the NCTM Annual Meeting taking place this
 week in Orlando, are just some of the many ways that teachers can enhance
 their mathematical knowledge and skills, network with colleagues, and learn
 about new teaching methods and appropriate instructional technologies."
     "Our political leaders are poised to make a decision on funding for the
 Eisenhower Professional Development program for math and science teachers. The
 TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking study provides further evidence that teachers, like
 all professionals, deserve ongoing opportunities to continue their
 professional development so that their students can benefit from their
 expertise," added Stiff.
     Another important finding of the TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking data is that
 higher mathematics achievement is realized when teachers emphasize reasoning
 and problem solving. Additionally, students in the Benchmarking jurisdictions
 generally followed the national pattern, doing above average in fractions and
 number sense, data representation and algebra, and performing less well in
 measurement and geometry.
     "Our students are learning the topics they are being taught. However, we
 need to teach more and better math -- with more emphasis on higher level
 mathematics that goes beyond the basics. This is the foundation of NCTM's
 'Principles and Standards for School Mathematics,'" Stiff concluded.
     With more than 100,000 members and approximately 250 affiliates located
 throughout the United States and Canada, NCTM is the world's largest
 organization dedicated to improving mathematics education from prekindergarten
 through grade 12. NCTM's "Principles and Standards for School Mathematics"
 provides guidelines for excellence in mathematics education.
 
 SOURCE  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics