**(1) U.S.
Secretary of ****Education Margaret Spellings Highlights
Findings of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel**

**Source: **U.S. Department of Education - 13
March 2008

**URL: **http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/03/03132008.html

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings 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
yesterday 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.

_____________________________________** **

**(2) Final
Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMP)**

**Source**: U.S. Department of Education - 13
March 2008

**URL** (NMP Main Page): http://www.ed.gov/MathPanel

On March 13, 2008, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel
presented its Final Report to the President of the United States and
the Secretary of Education... Ground-breaking [Task Group, and
Subcommittee] reports, rich with information for parents, teachers,
policy makers, the research community, and others, are provided below.

__Foundations for Success: Report of the National
Mathematics Advisory Panel__

**== **__Final Report:__ http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf

__ __

**== **__Draft Task Group Reports [MS Word documents]__

* Conceptual Knowledge and Skills: http://tinyurl.com/2wajuq

* Learning Processes: http://tinyurl.com/28a7o4

* Instructional Practices: http://tinyurl.com/2hqtmn

* Teachers: http://tinyurl.com/2c5tat

* Assessment: http://tinyurl.com/ytn8us

__ __

**== **__Draft Subcommittee Reports__

* Standards of Evidence: http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/soe.pdf

* Instructional Materials: http://tinyurl.com/2paf3w

* National Survey of Algebra Teachers for the National Math
Panel: http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/nsat.pdf

**== **__Fact Sheet__: http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-factsheet.html
[see below]

Paper copies of these reports may be ordered at http://EDPubs.ed.gov

If you need any of these documents in an alternative format,
please contact the National Math Panel at NationalMathPanel@ed.gov

_____________________________

**(3) National
Mathematics Advisory Panel "Fact Sheet" and "Principal Messages"**

**URL** (Fact Sheet): http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-factsheet.html

**URL** (Final Report, including Executive
Summary): http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf

__Text of the Fact Sheet [interspersed with portions
of the Executive Summary's "Principal Messages" within brackets]__

To compete in the 21st century global economy, knowledge of
and proficiency in mathematics is critical. Today's high school
graduates need to have solid mathematics skills--whether they are
headed for college or the workforce. To help ensure our nation's future
competitiveness and economic viability, President George W. Bush
created the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (National Math Panel)
in April 2006.

The panel was charged with providing recommendations to the
President and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings on the
best use of scientifically based research to advance the teaching and
learning of mathematics. Expert panelists, including a number of
leading mathematicians, cognitive psychologists, and educators, reviewed
numerous research studies before preparing a final report containing
guidance on how to improve mathematics achievement for all students in
the United States.

The National Math Panel's final report, issued on March 13,
2008, contains 45 findings and recommendations on numerous topics
including instructional practices, materials, professional development,
and assessments. Highlights from the report are briefly summarized
below. Please visit www.ed.gov/MathPanel
for the executive summary and full report.

**Core Principles of Math Instruction**

* The areas to be studied in mathematics from
pre-kindergarten through eighth grade should be streamlined, and a
well-defined set of the most important topics should be emphasized in
the early grades. Any approach that revisits topics year after year
without bringing them to closure should be avoided.

* Proficiency with whole numbers, fractions, and certain
aspects of geometry and measurement are the foundations for algebra. Of
these, knowledge of fractions is the most important foundational skill
not developed among American students.

* Conceptual understanding, computational and procedural
fluency, and problem solving skills are equally important and mutually
reinforce each other. Debates regarding the relative importance of each
of these components of mathematics are misguided.

* Students should develop immediate recall of arithmetic facts
to free the "working memory" for solving more complex problems.

* The benchmarks set forth by the Panel should help to guide
classroom curricula, mathematics instruction, textbook development, and
state assessments.

* More students should be prepared for and offered an
authentic algebra course at Grade 8.

* Algebra should be consistently understood in terms of the
"Major Topics of School Algebra," as defined by the National Math
Panel.

* The Major Topics of School Algebra include Symbols and
Expressions; linear equations; quadratic equations; functions; algebra
of polynomials; and combinatorics and finite probability.

**Student Effort Is Important**

Much of the public's "resignation" about mathematics education
is based on the erroneous idea that success comes from inherent talent
or ability in mathematics, not effort. A focus on the importance of
effort in mathematics learning will improve outcomes. If children
believe that their efforts to learn make them "smarter," they show
greater persistence in mathematics learning.

**Importance of Knowledgeable Teachers**

[Our citizens and their educational leadership should
recognize mathematically knowledgeable classroom teachers as having a
central role in mathematics education and should encourage rigorously
evaluated initiatives for attracting and appropriately preparing
prospective teachers, and for evaluating and retaining effective
teachers.]

* Teachers' mathematical knowledge is important for students'
achievement. The preparation of elementary and middle school teachers
in mathematics should be strengthened. Teachers cannot be expected to
teach what they do not know.

* The use of teachers who have specialized in elementary
mathematics teaching could be an alternative to increasing all
elementary teachers' mathematics content knowledge by focusing the need
for expertise on fewer teachers.

**Effective Instruction Matters**

[Instructional practice should be informed by high-quality
research, when available, and by the best professional judgment and
experience of accomplished classroom teachers. High-quality research
does not support the contention that instruction should be either
entirely "student centered" or "teacher directed." Research indicates
that some forms of particular instructional practices can have a
positive impact under specified

conditions."]

* Teachers' regular use of formative assessments can improve
student learning in mathematics.

* Instructional practice should be informed by high-quality
research, when available, and by the best professional judgment and
experience of accomplished classroom teachers.

* The belief that children of particular ages cannot learn
certain content because they are "too young" or "not ready" has
consistently been shown to be false.

* Explicit instruction for students who struggle with math is
effective in increasing student learning. Teachers should understand
how to provide clear models for solving a problem type using an array
of examples, offer opportunities for extensive practice, encourage
students to "think aloud," and give specific feedback.

* Mathematically gifted students should be allowed to
accelerate their learning.

* Publishers should produce shorter, more focused and
mathematically accurate mathematics textbooks. The excessive length of
some U.S. mathematics textbooks is not necessary for high achievement.

**Effective Assessment**

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and
state assessments in mathematics should be improved in quality and
should emphasize the most critical knowledge and skills leading to
Algebra.

**Importance of Research**

The nation must continue to build the capacity for more
rigorous research in mathematics education to inform policy and
practice more effectively.

[Positive results can be achieved in a reasonable time at
accessible cost, but a consistent, wise, community-wide effort will be
required. Education in the United States has many participants in many
locales--teachers, students, and parents; state school officers, school
board members, superintendents, and principals; curriculum developers,
textbook writers, and textbook editors; those who develop assessment
tools; those who prepare teachers and help them to continue their
development; those who carry out relevant research; association leaders
and government officials at the federal, state, and local levels. All
carry responsibilities. All can be important to success.

[The network of these many participants is linked through
interacting national associations. A coordinated national approach
toward improved mathematics education will require an annual forum of
their leaders for at least a decade. The Panel recommends that the U.S.
Secretary of Education take the lead in convening the forum initially,
charge it to organize in a way that will sustain an effective effort,
and request a brief annual report on the mutual agenda adopted for the
year ahead.]

[The President asked the Panel to use the best available
scientific research to advise on improvements in the mathematics
education of the nation’s children. Our consistent respect for sound
research has been the main factor enabling the Panel’s joint conclusions
on so many matters, despite differences of perspective and philosophy.
At the same time, we found no research or insufficient research
relating to a great many matters of concern in educational policy and
practice. In those areas, the Panel has been very limited in what it
can report.

The Panel lays out many concrete steps that can be taken now
toward significantly improved mathematics education, but it also views
them only as a best start in a long process. This journey, like that of
the post-Sputnik era, will require a commitment to "learning as we go
along." The nation should recognize that there is much more to discover
about how to achieve better results. Models of continuous improvement
have proven themselves in many other areas, and they can work again for
America in mathematics education.]

________________________________

**(4) "Panel
Calls for Systematic, Basic Approach to Math" **by Sean
Cavanagh

**Source**: *Education Week* - 13 March
2008

**URL**: http://tinyurl.com/yuydjn

A federal panel has issued a long-awaited report on how math
should be taught in the early grades, a blueprint that calls for a more
orderly march through the subject, with the goal of nurturing
students’ effortless recall of simple procedures and helping them
acquire broader problem-solving skills.

The report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, released
March 13, echoes a theme sounded repeatedly by math researchers today:
Math curricula and classroom strategies being used in states and
school districts lack consistency and logic...

The panel’s report repeatedly calls for students to be able to
automatically recall math procedures, such as basic addition,
subtraction, multiplication, and division, quickly and effortlessly. It
also cites students’ difficulty with fractions as "pervasive" and a
"major obstacle" to them learning algebra.

Larry R. Faulkner, the panel’s chairman, said the group found
that if students’ "working memory" is consumed with trying to perform
math that they should know automatically, it hinders their ability to
move to more difficult material.

"Automaticity is an important thing," Mr. Faulkner, the former
president of the University of Texas at Austin, told reporters the day
before the report’s official release.

But Jere Confrey, who chaired a 2004 federal study of math
curriculum, said the panel’s repeated emphasis on automatic recall and
basic arithmetic implicitly, and wrongly, suggested that other methods
are not as sound.

"The report seems to be unbalanced toward mastery of
algorithms," said Ms. Confrey, a professor of math education at North
Carolina State University, in Raleigh, in an interview. "It has a slant
to it," she added.

Ms. Confrey also said the report emphasized fractions and
geometry at the expense of other topics that could build students’
overall math understanding, such as basic statistics and probability,
as well as proportions. Those other topics help "nontraditional
students become intrigued and excited about mathematics," she wrote in
an e-mail.

**‘Scientific Evidence’**

The math panel sought to base its recommendations on "the best
available scientific evidence," as specified by the White House order.
It ranked studies of math programs and strategies in categories ranging
from "strong evidence" to "inconsistent" to "weak," based on the
methodology the studies used.

Ms. Confrey said the panel’s criteria were overly restrictive.
Case studies and other research that did not meet the "scientific
evidence" standards could provide valuable information on the true
impact of math programs and interventions in the classroom, she argued.
They give "short shrift to the need for multiple methods of research,"
Ms. Confrey wrote.

But panel members also discovered that some areas of issues
related to math education, such as cognitive studies of how children
learn, have produced more high-quality research than others, such as
how to prepare math educators and give them ongoing professional
development, Mr. Faulkner said.

"We’re going to have to learn more about what makes a good
teacher and how to instill" those abilities, Mr. Faulkner said. "Very
little is known about these things," he added, "surprisingly little,
given [their] importance"...

Two agencies that are heavily involved in supporting K-12
programs in math and science research and professional development, the
U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation,
accounted for more than half that $3 billion in spending. At a recent
meeting of the math panel, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret
Spellings said she hoped the math panel’s advice would help influence
federal spending across agencies.

**NCTM Reaction**

The math panel included a number of cognitive psychologists,
researchers, and college faculty members who have studied math issues.
It also included Francis M. "Skip" Fennell, the president of the
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, a 100,000-member
organization that exerts a strong influence over how that subject is
taught across the country.

The NCTM, based in Reston, Va., has angered some parents and
members of the school and college math community who believe it has
pushed a reform-style of math, focused too much on conceptual learning
and not enough on automatic recall of number facts. That approach
gained traction, those detractors have claimed, in voluntary national
standards that the NCTM originally published in 1989.

But the organization also won praise from its critics more
recently with its publication in 2006 of "Curriculum Focal Points," a
document aimed at streamlining the list of key math topics students are
expected to know in grades pre-K-8.

Mr. Fennell said recently that he and other NCTM officials have
visited about half the nation’s 50 states, some of which are in the
process of revising their math standards, to explain and encourage them
to use "Focal Points" as a resource.

The math panel relied partly on NCTM’s "Focal Points" as a
reference for identifying crucial early math skills. It also drew from
the math curricula used in high-performing states and top-achieving
countries on international tests, including Singapore, Japan, and South
Korea. In addition, the panel commissioned a survey of than 700
introductory–algebra teachers’ views on about students’ strengths and
weaknesses in that subject.

James M. Rubillo, the NCTM’s executive director, said early
drafts of the report had drawn both positive and negative reactions
from his organization’s members. He said he was pleased with the
panel’s use of "Focal Points" as a reference. He was less enthusiastic
with some of the report’s language that is critical of calculators’
role in math classes, a view that he said did not reflect the
technology’s potential benefits when used appropriately.

In the weeks ahead, the NCTM will "put a lens" on the report
and judge whether its various recommendations are based in research or
panelists’ opinions. But Mr. Rubillo also hoped the document could
bridge some disagreements over math instruction.

"There’s got to be a balance between skill development and
conceptual understanding," Mr. Rubillo said. That, he said, should
become "a real movement."

_____________________________

**(5) "Panel
Urges Schools to Emphasize Core Math Skills" **by Maria Glod

**Source**: *Washington Post* - 14 March
2008

**URL**: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/13/AR2008031301492_pf.html

...Larry R. Faulkner, chairman of the [National Mathematics
Advisory Panel] and former president of the University of Texas at
Austin, said the country needs to make changes to stay competitive in
an increasingly global economy. He noted that many U.S. companies draw
skilled workers from overseas, a pool that he said is drying as
opportunities abroad improve.

"Math education isn't just about a school subject," Faulkner
said as the panel released its final report at Fairfax County's
Longfellow Middle School. "It's fundamentally about the chances that
real people all across this country will have in life. And it's about
the well-being and safety of the nation."

Scores from the 2006 Program for International Student
Assessment showed 15-year-olds in the United States trailed peers from
23 industrialized countries in math....

The panel concluded that the math curricula and textbooks in
elementary and middle schools typically cover too many topics without
enough depth. It noted that countries in which children do best at
math, including Singapore and Japan, emphasize core topics.

The panel identified benchmark skills that students need for a
strong math foundation -- for example, that students be able to add
and subtract whole numbers by the end of third grade. By the time
students leave fifth grade, the panel said, they should be able to add
and subtract fractions and decimals.

"I think the main message of this report is simple -- content
is king," said Tom Loveless, panel member and director of the Brown
Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.

It's not just lessons that need to change, the panel said, but
also the nation's attitudes about math. In a culture in which parents
say they "weren't good at math either," children assume they don't have
the talent for numbers. The panel said that research shows that
practice pays off and that adults need to give students that message.

The panel also weighed in on the long-running battle between
traditionalists, who favor a focus on memorization and drilling, and
those who prefer stressing concepts and letting students make
connections on their own. Students need to know math facts and have
automatic recall, Faulkner said, but they also need "some element of
discovery."

"I think this panel has gradually evolved to the view that
most members believe that most effective teachers draw from both
philosophies at different times," he said.

The panel met a dozen times, heard testimony from groups and
individuals and reviewed thousands of research papers. The panel said
that it is "self-evident" that teachers need to have strong math skills
but that more research must be done to find the best ways to prepare
them...

________________________

**(6)** **Pi
Day, March 14, Is Party Time for Math Fans!**

**URL**: http://www.googolpower.com/content/press-release/2008/03/14/pi-day-march-14-is-party-time-for-math-fans

Math lovers, teachers and families around the world are ...
[celebrating] Pi Day on March 14, or more precisely to the pi second,
3/14 (the American date format) at 1:59:26 p.m.

Pi or π, approximately equal to 3.1415926, is one of the most
important mathematical constants. It represents the ratio of any
circle’s circumference to its diameter. The Greek letter π, often
spelled out as pi, was adopted as a symbol for the number from the
Greek word for perimeter...

"If there was just one day that screams math party, March 14
would have to be it," says Susan Jarema, founder of Googol Learning who
always looks for ways to make math more exciting for children.
Coincidently, March 14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, which offers
math lovers the chance to discuss famous discoveries that have been
proved through mathematics.

"To me Pi Day is not only a day to celebrate math, it also
recognizes the historical progress of our universal language of
mathematics," comments Jarema. Pi dates back more than 4,000 years,
when it was used by the Babylonians and Egyptians. In the third and
fourth centuries B.C., great thinkers such as Archimedes, Ptolemy and
Euclid came up with their own estimates and proofs. Today,
supercomputers are able to estimate pi with precision to over a
trillion digits.

Besides March 14, there are other days to celebrate pi. Pi
Approximation Day may be observed on several dates, but the most
popular is July 22 (22/7 using the European date format--just divide 22
by 7 to estimate pi). Another favorite day to observe pi is November
10 (the 314th day of the year), or November 9 in a leap year. You could
also celebrate Pi in December on the 355th day of the year at 1:13
p.m., for the Chinese approximation 355/113 (divide 355 by 113 to
arrive at an estimate of pi).

The first recognized Pi Day celebration was held March 14,
1988, at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where the staff and public
marched around in a circle and ate fruit pies. Now, many organizations,
countless websites and thousands of classrooms host celebrations. Pi
enthusiasts in the math community take pride in memorizing pi and
coming up with higher estimates of its digits.

Jarema created the award-winning musical Googol Power Math
Series to make learning math fun for children. Since then, she has
built a free-content website that shares ways to make math exciting.
She offers 10 helpful ideas to make Pi Day a special celebration for
your students or family...

Visit Googol Learning’s website at

www.googolpower.com to check out
its Pi Day resource section and for many more free resources to help
increase your child’s interest in math.