Everywhere you turn, it’s evident: today’s students are growing up in a world very different from that of their parents. In the last century, America led a communications and technology revolution that connected people around the world as never before and transformed the way we live and the way we work. Labor market trends indicate that tomorrow’s high-growth, high-wage jobs will go to those with strong backgrounds in mathematics and science and to high-skill technical workers. This foundation is cultivated in the early grades, where children need to develop the critical thinking skills that will be necessary for them to pass algebra and gain the pre-algebraic competencies to take and pass more rigorous courses through high school and beyond. And yet…
- Only 7 percent of 4th and 8th graders achieved an advanced level on the 2003 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) test, compared to 41 percent of 4th and 8th graders in Singapore;
- A recent survey by the Raytheon Company found that 84 percent of middle school students would rather clean their rooms, take out the garbage or go to the dentist than do their math homework;
- Our 15-year olds rank 24th out of 29 developed nations in math literacy and problem solving; and
- Less than half of our students graduate from high school ready for college-level math and science.
If we as a country are going to keep our edge-and ensure that this and future generations of students have the math and science skills to lead the way-we must build a stronger foundation in these subjects in the early grades, and encourage more children to consider careers in math and science. To help address these urgent needs, states will now be required to also measure and report student progress in the sciences and the President has proposed a series of targeted math and science-related investments under the American Competitiveness Initiative. The Initiative aims to strengthen K-12 math and science education through a number of innovative programs, including the National Math Panel, which is building a scientific-research base of proven math classroom practices; Math Now, which will promote research-based practices in elementary and middle school math instruction and prepare students to master Algebra and prepare for advanced math in high school; and the Advanced Placement-International Baccalaureate Program, which will train 70,000 teachers to lead advanced math, science and language courses over the next five years.
Guests on the February 20 edition of Education News, including U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, school practitioners, business leaders, and math and science experts, will talk about the American Competitiveness Initiative and explore such questions as:
- What is the “global economy” and what new demands does it place on our students and our schools?
- How does No Child Left Behind strengthen math and science? How will the 2007 science assessments help?
- How will the American Competitiveness Initiative help to improve math and science instruction, student competence and achievement, and ultimately close the achievement gaps?
- How can parents encourage their children to learn mathematics and science outside the classroom?
- What should students be learning in mathematics and science at the elementary, middle and high school grades? What must change in the way these subjects are currently being taught?
- How can we encourage all students-especially girls and minority students-to pursue math and science careers?
For information on broadcasting, click here.