U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings Highlights Findings of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel
Spellings Stresses Importance of Effort, Algebra and Early Math Education
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced the release of the final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Created in April 2006 by President George W. Bush, the historic panel worked for more than two years reviewing the best available scientific evidence to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics. The final report and its findings were passed unanimously at the panel’s meeting today at Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church, Va.
“This report represents the first comprehensive analysis of math education to be based on sound science,” said Secretary Spellings. “The National Math Advisory Panel’s findings and recommendations make very clear what must be done to help our children succeed in math. We must teach number and math concepts early, we must help students believe they can improve their math skills and we must ensure they fully comprehend algebra concepts by the time they graduate from high school. The Panel’s extensive work will benefit generations of American students.”
The experts on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel represent over six centuries of experience in their respective fields. They have received testimony from more than 200 individuals and nearly 150 organizations, and reviewed more than 16,000 research studies.
The report respects the role of teachers as those in the best position to determine how to teach a given concept or skill. Instead of defining methods for teaching, the report offers a timeline of when students must master critical topics. The panel determined that students need to develop rapid recall of arithmetic facts in the early grades, going on to master fractions in middle school. Having built this strong foundation, the panel stated students would then be ready for rigorous algebra courses in high school or earlier. Noting changing demographics and rising economic demands, Secretary Spellings stressed the significance of the panel’s findings on algebra.
“The panel’s research showed that if students do well in algebra, then they are more likely to succeed in college and be ready for better career opportunities in the global economy of the 21st century,” said Secretary Spellings. “We must increase access to algebra and other rigorous coursework if we hope to close the achievement gap between poor and minority students and their peers.”
The panel also found that the earlier children learn math, the better their chances of success.
“Just as with reading, the math knowledge children bring to school at an early age is linked with their performance in later grades,” said Secretary Spellings. “I hope parents will seize upon this finding and, just as we encourage with reading, they also spend time with their children working on numbers and core mathematics concepts.”
Adds Secretary Spellings, “It is vital that as our children continue to learn new mathematics concepts, we encourage them to believe that working harder in math will lead to achieving better results. Studies have shown that it is effort, and not just inherent talent, that makes the critical difference between success and failure. When it comes to math, it seems hard science says it is truly worth the effort!”
The Secretary will convene a national summit based on the recommendation of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.
For more information on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel and its findings, please visit www.ed.gov/MathPanel.
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