AMS Committee on Education Annual Report, 1999December, 1999
To the AMS Council
Following is my report for the AMS Committee on Education. It is a slight elaboration of the excellent records of committee activities prepared by Monica Foulkes, with the assistance of Sam Rankin. I warmly thank both of them for their assistance.
Chair, AMS Committee on Education
COE Events, January 1999 Joint Mathematics Meetings, San Antonio.
AMS-MAA-NCTM Panel Discussion on the Draft of the updated NCTM Standards for school mathematics was well-attended and produced lively audience reaction and debate.
AMS-MAA-NASSMC Panel Discussion on three recent evaluations of State Standards for School mathematics was also well-attended and provided views of issues at the state level concerning standards and their implementation.
From the April, 1999 interim report to ECBT.
The AMS Association Resource Group (ARG), appointed to provide input to NCTM writing teams working on the revision of the NCTM Standards, is currently discussing the recently-released draft Standards 2000 and will submit comments to NCTM by the May 1 deadline. CoE members are also providing individual responses to NCTM. Four ARG reports, submitted over the last two years in response to questions posed by NCTM, have been made available on the AMS Web site, together with links to the draft Standards and the mechanism for providing comments to NCTM.
Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), an NSF-funded group, had requested an essay giving the AMS perspective on accomplishments and changes in undergraduate mathematics education during the decade 1989-1999. A subgroup was appointed by CoE and, at MAA's request, was subsequently supplemented by MAA representatives. Their draft was forwarded to PKAL in March, and will be included in a publication to be released in conjunction with a PKAL seminar in October 1999.
An AMS-MAA steering committee was appointed to exercise oversight of AMS-MAA participation in a Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) project, led by the Council of Graduate Schools and funded by NSF. A request for proposals was sent to all doctorate-granting departments of mathematics and the committee is currently reviewing the proposals submitted. Four departments will be selected by April 15 to receive subawards of US$10,000 per year for two years for PFF activities. AMS will administer these subawards.
The MR/RUME subcommittee made recommendations to the Math Reviews Editorial Committee on coverage of research in mathematics education.
Monitoring of Congressional activities affecting mathematics education continues through the AMS Washington Office. An issue in which CoE members have been involved--the President's Voluntary National Test in 8th Grade Mathematics--has encountered Congressional stumbling blocks and the current status is that the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) is continuing with limited development of tests and will report to Congress and the White House by June 30. If Congress decides in favor of tests, pilot testing could be conducted in March 2000.
In 1998 CoE Chair Hyman Bass testified before one of a series of hearings conducted by Congressman Vernon Ehlers, of the House Science Committee. Ehlers' Science Policy Study report was released in fall, and since then he has been designated the House of Representatives' lead person on mathematics education issues. Samuel Rankin, from the AMS Washington Office, met recently with his Legislative Assistant, Laura Rodriguez, to present information about the AMS and its educational concerns and activities, and will stay in contact during plans for future hearings or proposed legislation emerging from the House Science Committee. CoE members are kept informed about such hearings and other developments, such as the recent reports on mathematics and science education released by the National Science Board and the National Research Council.
The NSF-funded AMS-MER-SIAM Master's Degree Programs in Mathematics project sponsored a workshop for departments in November 1998 in New York; funding for the second year has been awarded and a second workshop will be held in November 1999 at Arizona State University.
AMS Committee on Education Meeting, September 24-25, 1999, Washington DC
CoE invited representatives of some of the many new mathematics education projects currently underway (both government-sponsored and private), in addition to CoE's traditional visitors from the National Science Foundation, Department of Education, and other mathematical organizations. Discussions focused on the following.
AAAS PROJECT 2061.
Project director George Nelson outlined their evaluation of curriculum materials. A study of middle school mathematics texts has already been published, to be followed soon by a study of algebra text books. An extensive discussion was concerned largely with the criteria used for this evaluation, as well as the level of involvement by mathematicians.
Matt Gandal described this new organization, created by state governors and business leaders to support states in raising education standards by helping to benchmark standards and develop tests to measure results. About 23 states are currently involved.
EDUCATION TRUST INC.
Established by the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) to encourage colleges and universities to support K-12 reform efforts, The Education Trust is currently working to bring community-wide collaboratives together in 40 different communities in the US -- large urban areas, a few mid-size, and a small number of rural areas. Nevin Brown described the successes achieved by the El Paso, TX, collaborative for academic excellence.
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE TEACHING IN THE 21stCENTURY (GLENN COMMISSION).
Recently appointed by the Dept. of Education, this year-long Commission will prepare recommendations to develop a strategy to raise the quality of U.S. mathematics and science teaching. Several CoE members had attended the first of five hearings. A report will be issued in fall, 2000. Deborah Ball, University of Michigan, and member of the Commission, reported on the first hearing's events and invited CoE input.
NCTM STANDARDS 2000
Joan Ferrini-Mundy and John Thorpe reported on the current status of the revision of the NCTM Standards, which will be released in April 2000. AMS was thanked for the input provided during the rewriting of the standards over the last two years by the AMS Association Resource Group (AMS ARG).
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Norman Fortenberry and Elizabeth Teles, of the Division of Undergraduate Education, discussed current and new programs, the future direction of NSF's education activities as a result of the change of Director of Education and Human Resources, and the implementation of Director Rita Colwell's new initiatives on graduate teaching fellowships and bio-diversity. Philippe Tondeur, Director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences, discussed current DMS projects and the FY2000 budget situation.
CoE moved that Judith Sunley, recently appointed as NSF's interim Director of Education and Human Resources, be invited to deliver an AMS-MSEB address at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Washington DC, January 2000. (Bruce Alberts, originally invited for this program, was unable to accept.) Sunley has accepted the invitation, and will address the meeting on Wednesday, January 19.
CoE will also invite Dr. Sunley to meet with representatives of AMS and other professional organizations to discuss new directions at EHR and explore opportunities for more fruitful involvement of mathematicians in EHR programs. Dr. Sunley is receptive to this proposal, and discussions are still underway for when and how to do this.
Legislative assistants for two Congressmen who have taken prominent positions in addressing science and mathematics education -- Congressman Vernon Ehlers (MI) and Congressman Rush Holt (NJ) -- reported on some current legislative efforts: the jointly-sponsored bill on professional development of teachers (Eisenhower Professional Development Program), Holtís involvement with the Glenn Commission, and Ehlers' recent "Dear colleague" letter urging Congressional support for increased research funding for science in the FY 2000 appropriations. Both visitors advised mathematicians to involve their Members of Congress at the local level, to enlighten them as to what is being done in their districts by federally-funded mathematicians.
At the time of the meeting, the federal FY 2000 budget for science (spread over several agencies) was under serious threats in Congressional appropriations battles. Since then, R&D finally emerged with healthier increases than had been anticipated, although most of the increases went to NIH. Although many agency budgets contain a mathematics and science education component, the two largest programs are within the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. NSFís FY 2000 budget will increase by 6.6% over FY 1999, with Education and Human Resources increasing 5.1% to US$696 million (US$18 million more than President Clinton had requested). The Department of Educationís Eisenhower program will continue to be funded at the FY 1999 level.
Also since the meeting, Congressman Ehlers made a speech on the House floor stressing the need to improve U.S. science and mathematics instruction; Ehlers is also drafting a bill on teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention. As a result of contacts with Sherrie Priesche, legislative assistant, Congressman Holt has agreed to come to a town meeting with mathematicians and other scientists in January, 2000 at Princeton. The arrangements for this are still preliminary.
Jim Lewis reported that the AMS Task Force on Excellence had recently released its report and he outlined follow-up activities. CoE members had also received draft chapters of a forthcoming report from the CBMS project on the mathematical education of teachers (MET) and discussed the drafts with Alan Tucker and Jim Lewis (members of the CBMS MET group).
Representatives from the National Research Council, the Mathematical Sciences Education Board, and the Mathematical Association of America spoke briefly on their projects. David Bressoud has been invited to serve as AMS liaison to the MAA Committee on Undergraduate Programs in Mathematics on their curriculum initiative. Sam Rankin and Monica Foulkes are assisting CUPM in organizing two focus group discussions for CUPM at the January 2000 meetings.
Status reports on the NSF-funded AMS-MER-SIAM project on professional masters' programs, and the AMS-MAA administered sub-awards of the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) project, were presented by Samuel Rankin. The second workshop was held November 5-6, 1999 at Arizona State University.