K-12 Education

(Adopted by Council on November 19, 2000)

POLICY STATEMENT ON K-12 SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS EDUCATION

In an age of rapid technological advances, a strong educational program in science and mathematics is essential for the United States. Despite the heroic efforts of many teachers and the large investments of school districts, in too many places we currently fail to provide it. Too many citizens leave school without the scientific literacy necessary to deal with new technologies and their far-reaching societal implications. Our country is not educating enough technologically skilled and knowledgeable workers, a situation that will compromise our competitive advantage in an increasingly global economy. Particularly in the physical sciences, too many students receive instruction from teachers insecure in their subject area knowledge.

Some progress is being made. The efforts of experts in science, mathematics, and education have yielded appropriate learning standards that are being increasingly adopted by teachers and school districts around the country as a first step toward improvement. Yet, further steps are necessary. To support a vision of science and mathematics education that ensures that all students receive high quality instruction, APS recommends that policy makers:

  • Enhance support for the preparation of prospective science and mathematics teachers, particularly those programs that involve collaborative efforts of college or university departments of science and mathematics with their departments of education.
  • Recognize the critical importance of professional development activities for science and mathematics teachers, particularly by increasing investment in sustained in-service programs.
  • Support sustained efforts to develop and implement high quality instructional materials for science and mathematics.
  • Increase research on how students learn science and mathematics, and develop and disseminate strategies and conditions that promote effective teaching, learning and appropriate assessment.
  • Provide increased resources and incentives to enhance science and mathematics teacher recruitment, retention and professional status.
  • Support efforts to increase the participation and achievement of underrepresented groups in the sciences, mathematics and engineering to foster a strong, diverse workforce.
  • Provide incentives for partnerships among the private sector, universities/colleges and school systems to develop quality educational programs.
  • Support specific, targeted funding of national programs to improve the quality of science and mathematics teaching, such as the Eisenhower Professional Development Program.
  • Encourage coordination of efforts among federal agencies that provide support for K-12 science and mathematics education.

REFERENCES:

"Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium," National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, 2000. www.nap.edu/books/0309070333/html

"Before It's Too Late. A Report to the Nation from the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century." (The Glenn Commission), 2000. www.ed.gov/americacounts/glenn

"To Touch the Future: Transforming the Way Teachers are Taught. An Action Agenda for College and University Presidents" American Council on Education, 1999. www.acenet.edu/resources/presnet

"Shaping the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology." The National Science Foundation, 1996. www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf9873

"National Science Education Standards," National Research Council, National Academy Press, 1996. www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses/html

"Principles and Standards for School Mathematics", NCTN, Reston, VA, 1989. standards.nctm.org

"Science for All Americans," 1990; "Benchmarks for Science Literacy," 1993; "Blueprints for Reform: Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education," 1998; American Association for the Advancement of Science, Oxford University Press. www.project2061.org/tools