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National Math Panel Releases Preliminary Report

The National Math Panel has released their preliminary report in January 2007:

http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/pre-report.pdf

This group, authorized by the President, has concluded there are problems with our math instruction in the US:

Unfortunately, many 8th graders have not been exposed to all of this necessary content and continue to lag behind, leaving them unprepared to take algebra, the gateway course to higher mathematics.

They also touch on the question of elementary teachers having enough math background. As I currently study for my certification in k-5 teaching, I have been fortunate that my education in math was very strong, and very traditional. Trust me, I was never brilliant in math - my high school teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Allen, could attest to that. But with a solid foundation, you have the ability to pass these math tests for elementary school teaching without even brushing up. Pretty good for someone with a bad memory and not consider a math wiz.

While secondary school mathematics teachers typically have more extensive coursework in this subject area, there are questions about whether elementary school teachers take a sufficient number of math courses to prepare them for math instruction. Once in the classroom, sustained professional development and training also are necessary to continue to equip teachers with the skills they need. Between a focus on subject area expertise and knowledge of the proper pedagogy, there is uncertainty about the balance necessary to best prepare teachers for the unique task of teaching math and for their continuing professional development.

Here's a thought: What happens if people with really low math skills become elementary school teachers. Now I'm not saying all elementary teachers have poor math skills. But what if many do. Wouldn't it be favorable to use a math pedagogy (dogma/method of teaching) that has students constructing their own learning in math? Wow, that sounds great! Where do I sign up?

At your local university.

New math is wonderful at covering up poor math teachers by using watered down curriculum with no accountability.

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