Reforms that add up

Although Massachusetts students lead the nation in math scores, state education officials are nervous-less than 50 percent of Bay State youngsters demonstrate a solid command on national math tests, and elementary math scores on MCAS exams have not risen in two years. Sandra Stotsky, a new state Board of Education member, blames shoddy teacher preparation: "If we don't have high-achieving teachers, how do you get high-achieving students?" Good question, and policymakers in Massachusetts are answering it. Starting in 2008, elementary school teachers will have to pass a broader and tougher math sub-test to earn a license. Math instruction is also receiving corrective action in Maryland. In response to the recent NCTM report (see here), state officials are proposing to revamp their math standards, which they say are "a mile wide and an inch deep," by narrowing them to three, focused objectives in each grade level (as opposed to the 50 or 60 each now contains). Stronger math skills and less scoliosis? A promising start, indeed.

"Teachers' math skills are targeted," by Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe, January 2, 2007

"Can Less Equal More?" by Liz Bowie, Baltimore Sun, January 2, 2007