In This Issue...
Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles) recently announced that the governor signed into law her Senate Bill 1660 to address a critical shortage of math, science, and special education teachers in the lowest-performing (API Deciles 1-3) schools.
The measure will enable school districts to attract and retain highly-qualified teachers by providing compensation for incentives such as extra pay, additional time for class preparation, and extra time for professional development.
"The overwhelming majority of students in the lowest-performing schools come from poverty and are also predominantly Latino and African American," Romero said. "Students in these schools have less access than students in other schools to qualified math, science and special education teachers. I believe that the effort to achieve quality education for poor and disadvantaged students is the civil rights issue of our time. Senate Bill 1660 is a step forward. California cannot lead the nation in renewable energy, a viable green economy, or in health care if we do not address the shortage and inequitable distribution of math and science teachers now."
Students in the lowest performing schools are four times more likely to have teachers less qualified to teach math and science than students in better performing schools. Of the nearly one million students in these schools, 67.2% are Latino and 11.1% are African American. More than 40% are English learners, and most of them are poor.
Educators fear students in the lowest-performing schools will fall further behind in math when the State Board of Education requires testing of all eighth grade students on Algebra I in three years.
SB 1660 will allow school districts to use the professional development block grant funds they currently have for alternative ways to compensate teachers only if the teachers' bargaining units agree to it.
Source: Sandie Gilliam, CMC PAEMST
Coordinator - email@example.com
(Note: James J. Miller, California Department of Education, is the
PAEMST Coordinator for Science: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The California Mathematics Council (CMC) Awards Committee is hoping that you will nominate exceptional, experienced teachers for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The 2008-2009 applicants must teach mathematics or science in grades 7-12. Next year, teachers in grades K-6 will be eligible to apply.
The following article appeared in the September issue of CMC's ComMuniCator:
Reward Good Teaching
There are over 150,000 teachers in California teaching math, and yet each year we're getting fewer than 15 applications for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching.
If you know an exemplary SECONDARY mathematics teacher who:
Although mentors are available to help, personal encouragement and collegial guidance have been important to the success of previous applicants.
For more information and a nomination form which is NOW AVAILABLE, you can go the website at http://www.paemst.org
Mentoring sessions for the application will be held at the CMC conferences in Palm Springs (November 7-8) and Asilomar (December 4-7). [See http://www.cmc-math.org/conferences] Application deadline: May 31, 2009.
Source: Mathematical Sciences Research
"Using Partnerships to Strengthen Elementary Mathematics Teacher Education" is a workshop scheduled to be held on December 11-12, 2008. The workshop, which is sponsored by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, CA, is being organized by Deborah Ball (University of Michigan), James Lewis (University of Nebraska), and William McCallum (University of Arizona). The workshop will explore the challenges to and benefits of a collaborative approach to the mathematical education of elementary teachers.
A core problem--perhaps the central problem--for improving elementary school mathematics is the mathematical education of elementary teachers. The historic isolation of elementary teachers' study of mathematics from their pedagogical preparation is increasingly seen to be both unnatural and ineffective. Indeed, the mathematical education of elementary teachers is inherently interdisciplinary as future teachers seek to gain the mathematical knowledge, the pedagogical knowledge and the knowledge of young students that is needed to become a successful mathematics teacher. Thus, it seems reasonable that an integrative learning approach to mathematical education of elementary teachers could yield substantial benefits.
In part supported by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, mathematicians and educators at the University of Michigan, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Sonoma State University, and Mills College have worked to form partnerships that meet the mathematical and pedagogical needs of their students. Faculty from these institutions who have participated in the Collaborative Teaching project will report on their efforts and lessons learned about working together to educate teachers of mathematics.
These questions guide the workshop design:
1. What mathematical and pedagogical knowledge is of central
importance to the preparation of elementary mathematics teachers?
The audience for the workshop includes mathematicians, mathematics educators, and classroom teachers who are concerned with improving elementary teachers' opportunities to gain the mathematical knowledge needed for teaching. Participants should attend the workshop in teams of 2-4 that include at least one mathematician and one educator, both of whom are interested in the education of elementary teachers and in learning more about the benefits that can be derived from a collaborative approach to the mathematical education of elementary teachers.
Source: California Commission on Teacher
At last week's meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, an item entitled, "Authorizations to Teach Mathematics" was included on the agenda. The document accompanying this item is available for download from the Web site above.
Included below is an excerpt:
Mathematics, especially Algebra I, has been the focus of much
attention recently due to action of the State Board of Education (SBE)
in July 2008 to assess all 8th grade students in Algebra I by the
2010-11 school year. This action was taken as a condition of entering
into a compliance agreement with the U.S. Department of Education
(USDE). In light of this new state policy direction, it seems
appropriate to review and discuss the documents that authorize an
individual to teach mathematics, since a number of the Commission's
credentials and other documents authorize an individual to teach
mathematics in the public schools.
This credential authorizes the holder to teach all subjects in a self-contained class and, as a self-contained classroom teacher, to team teach or to regroup students across classrooms, in grades twelve and below, including preschool, and in classes organized primarily for adults. In addition, this credential authorizes the holder to teach core classes consisting of two or more subjects to the same group of students in grades five through eight, and to teach any of the core subjects he or she is teaching to a single group of students in the same grade level as the core for less than fifty percent of his or her work day.
Mathematics Authorizations for the Secondary Level
* The single subject credential in mathematics authorizes an
individual to teach every level of mathematics from grades K-12. More
specifically, the single subject mathematics authorization statement
This credential authorizes the holder to teach only the subject
matter content typically included for the introductory subject or
subjects listed above, in curriculum guidelines and textbooks approved
for study in grades 9 and below [(i.e., Algebra I and Geometry)] to
students in preschool, kindergarten, grades 1-12, or in classes
organized primarily for adults....
The preparation for an individual to teach any subject includes
both an understanding of the subject matter and an understanding of how
to teach that subject to K-12 students. Subject Matter Requirements
(SMRs) are developed for each content area, and then Program Standards
are adopted by the Commission. The same SMRs are used when an
examination is developed. The current SMRs for mathematics are aligned
to the adopted student content standards... An individual earning an
initial authorization to teach mathematics has two options for
demonstrating mastery of the content of mathematics: 1) completion of
an approved subject matter preparation program offered by a college or
university (an option for a single subject credential) that provides
instruction in subject matter content and an introduction to
subject-specific pedagogy, or 2) passage of an examination (required
for a multiple subject credential, an option for a single subject
credential). Completion of university coursework is required when an
individual adds either a Supplementary Authorization (20 units) or a
Subject Matter Authorization (32 units) to his or her existing single
subject or multiple subject credential...
Domain 1: Algebra
One final consideration relevant to this topic is that the
Commission has the authority to award Specialist credentials. The
program standards for the Mathematics Specialist Programs were
developed in 1985 and revised slightly in 1992. But at this time, there
are no approved programs that meet the standards and fewer than twenty
Mathematics Specialist credentials have been granted. The
authorization for the mathematics specialist reads:
Source: EurekAlert - 10 October 2008
...The study, "Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving," appearing in the November 2008 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, brings together decades of data from several extremely high-level mathematics competitions for young people. These data show that there exist many females with profound intrinsic ability in mathematics. What is more, whether this ability is identified and nurtured is highly dependent on socio-cultural, educational, or other environmental factors. In the United States, these factors keep many boys as well as most girls from developing their mathematical talents to the fullest.
Girl Math Whizzes Found in Cultures that Value Math
The main part of the study examines participation in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), a highly challenging, nine-hour, six-problem essay style examination taken by some of the most mathematically gifted pre-college students the world over. In recent years, as many as 95 countries have sent 6-member teams to compete in the IMO. The study found that there have been numerous girls who have excelled in the IMO; however, the frequency with which girls of medal-winning ability are identified varies greatly from country to country.
Even some relatively small countries such as Bulgaria and Romania can field highly successful IMO teams. "[W]hat most of these countries [that excel in the IMO] have in common are rigorous national mathematics curricula along with cultures and educational systems that value, encourage, and support students who excel in mathematics," the study says. Since 1974, the highly-ranked Bulgarian, East German/German, and USSR/Russian IMO teams have included 9, 10, and 13 different girls, respectively. By contrast, during that same time period, the U.S. teams included just 3 girls. While only a few students per year typically achieve a perfect score of 42 points in this extremely difficult exam, multiple girls have been among them, including Evgenia Malinnikova of the USSR who missed by only one point achieving a perfect 42 three years in a row.
One of the study's findings is that many of the students from the United States who participate in the IMO are immigrants or children of immigrants from countries where education in mathematics is valued and mathematical talent is nurtured. A similar pattern holds for data from other highly challenging math competitions, including the USA Mathematical Olympiad and the Putnam Mathematical Competition for undergraduate students, also analyzed in the study. In particular, Asian-American and white girls who are immigrants from Eastern Europe are well represented in proportion to their percentages of the U.S. and Canadian populations among the very top students identified in these math competitions. It is only U.S.- and Canadian-born white and historically underrepresented minority girls who are underrepresented--underrepresented by 50-fold or more relative to Asian girls educated in the same school systems, the study concludes.
U.S. Culture Discourages Girls--and Boys
Study co-author Titu Andreescu of the University of Texas at Dallas believes, "Innate math aptitude is probably fairly evenly distributed throughout the world, regardless of race or gender. The huge differences observed in achievement levels are most likely due to socio-cultural attributes specific to each country." Some countries routinely identify and nurture both boys and girls with profound mathematical ability to become world-class mathematical problem solvers, while others, including the USA, only rarely identify girls of this caliber. In addition, social pressures conspire to discourage girls from pursuing math. "[I]t is deemed uncool within the social context of USA middle and high schools to do mathematics for fun; doing so can lead to social ostracism," the report says.
"Consequently, gifted girls, even more so than boys, usually camouflage their mathematical talent to fit in well with their peers."
The study also looks at the representation of women among the faculty in five of the very top US research university mathematics departments. Just 20% of the women in these elite departments were born in the United States. Of the 80% born elsewhere, many are immigrants from countries in which girls are frequently members of IMO teams. The study found a similar race/ethnicity/birth country/gender profile among U.S. participants in the IMO and its training camp as among the faculties of these outstanding math departments. "Thus, we conclude that the mathematics faculty being hired by these very highest-ranked research universities reflects the pool of IMO medal-caliber students of mathematics coming through the pipeline," the study says.
"The U.S. culture that is discouraging girls is also discouraging boys," says Janet Mertz, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of oncology and lead author of the study. "The situation is becoming urgent. The data show that a majority of the top young mathematicians in this country, male as well as female, were not born here." Co-author Joseph A. Gallian, professor of mathematics at the University of Minnesota Duluth, says, "Just as there is concern about the U.S. relying on foreign countries for our oil and manufactured goods, we should also be concerned about relying on others to fill our needs for mathematicians, engineers, and scientists.
COMET is sponsored in part by a grant from the California Mathematics Project.
COMET is produced by:
2008 Archive >