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Excellence and Equity: Mobilizing For Math and Science Learning

1. Mobilize the nation to improve math and science education for all students

By the federal government, states, school districts, and national and local education reform organizations.

  • Mount campaigns that generate public awareness of math and science as central to the revitalization of the American economy and social mobility for young Americans
  • Increase public understanding that math and science are connected to a wide range of careers in many fields—virtually any secure and rewarding job in any sector of the economy
  • Build understanding and will among policymakers and education, business, and civic leaders to close the gap between current education achievement and the future knowledge and skill needs of students

By colleges and universities

  • Raise awareness and build support in colleges and universities for stronger and more coherent math and science preparation for all students
  • Increase partnerships between higher education and K-12 systems to increase the number of students entering two- and four-year colleges well-prepared and able to take up mathematics and science learning

2. Place mathematics and science at the center of school improvement and accountability efforts

By the federal government, states, school districts, and national and local education reform organizations

  • Make improvement in math and science outcomes, especially by historically underperforming groups, a benchmark in designing and evaluating school improvement efforts at all grade levels for all students
  • Incorporate math and science learning as part of the expected learning outcomes of initiatives in other areas, including literacy, social studies, art, and service learning

By businesses, nonprofit organizations, unions, philanthropy, and other partners

  • Advocate for and support smart investments in K-16 mathematics and science achievement for a vital state, city, or regional economy
  • Map assets in science and math, including science and technology-based industry, medical and health research and practice centers, and museums, and communicate how these can be leveraged for increasing math and science achievement
  • Increase the science and math content in out-of-school time programming through project-based, real-world activities
  • Incentivize the development of state, regional, and local science, math, engineering, and technology initiatives

Standards and Assessments

1. Establish common math and science standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher and that stimulate and guide instructional improvement and galvanize the nation to pursue meaningful math and science learning for all Americans

By the federal government

  • Endorse the National Governors Association and CCSSO Common Core Standards Initiative process and the creation of common, national standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher in mathematics and English language arts; urge the Common Core states to tackle science standards in the next round of development
  • Support research and development activities that strengthen our collective understanding of what all students need to know and be able to do in order to succeed in college, thrive in the workforce, and participate in civic life
  • Take steps to increase public understanding of the connection between better standards and better math and science education for all students

By governors and states

  • Participate in the Common Core Standards Initiative to develop fewer, clearer, and higher common standards in mathematics and English language arts
  • Within the Common Core Standards Initiative, encourage the development of science standards in the next round of development, utilizing the four strands of scientific proficiency and demonstrated capacities in the work of science identified in the report of the National Research Council, Taking Science to School (2007)
  • Work with other states and with K-12 and higher education system leaders to explore the feasibility of offering a mathematics pathway to college for secondary students that is equally rigorous to the calculus pathway and that features deeper study of statistics, data analysis, and related discrete mathematics applications, beginning with a redesigned Algebra II course; write standards to enable that pathway and ensure rigorous learning
  • Make a public commitment to mathematics and science standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher—and based on the best existing evidence about the developmental trajectory of how students learn and the skills and knowledge they need for further education, work, and citizenship
  • Learn more about the standards development efforts of states that have made recent progress, such as Indiana, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, and apply lessons from that work to improve practice and build greater consensus
  • Join with other states in a continuous process of improving mathematics and science standards, based on a growing evidence base about student learning, needed skills and knowledge, and the efficacy of existing standards
  • Take steps to increase public understanding of the connection between better standards and better math and science curriculum and instruction for all students
  • In science, become familiar with the work beginning at the National Research Council in July 2009 to develop a process for identifying core disciplinary ideas in science and transfer lessons learned from this process to the development of a Common Core in science
  • Support efforts toward developing standards that encourage greater integration of literacy development within mathematics and science and a stronger emphasis on the cognitive and developmental research that can inform math and science learning across the curriculum in both K-12 and higher education

By colleges and universities

  • Work with K-12 systems to redefine rigorous mathematics pathways that include data analysis and statistics and lead to admission to four-year colleges
  • Redesign introductory and required courses in mathematics and science to connect more seamlessly with new secondary standards by providing rigorous development of quantitative and scientific literacy skills needed by all students for further education, work, and citizenship
  • Assess the quality and levels of learning in mathematics and science by undergraduate students, especially during the first two years of college
  • Review science and math curriculum with an eye toward increasing undergraduate competence in using and interpreting scientific evidence and participating in scientific practices and discourse

By businesses, unions, nonprofit organizations, and other partners

  • Support state involvement in Common Core Standards Initiative and promote the development of high-quality standards in mathematics and science
  • Engage teachers and school leaders in promoting fewer, clearer, and higher standards in math and science in their states as essential to their ability to strengthen instructional practice

By philanthropy

  • Support state efforts to participate in the Common Core Standards Initiative and other efforts to develop fewer, clearer, and higher standards
  • Fund research that strengthens the evidence base regarding what students need to know for further education, work, and citizenship and how teachers and schools can best support student learning
  • Support research and the development of new practices in mathematics and science learning that would inform standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher and support the infusion of math and science learning across the curriculum

2. Develop sophisticated assessments and accountability mechanisms that, along with common standards, stimulate and guide instructional improvement and innovation in mathematics and science

By the federal government

  • Incentivize development of higher quality assessments in mathematics and science for use by states and districts to evaluate teaching and learning and guide instructional improvement
  • Fund research on the effects of new standards and assessments on student performance and on instruction

By governors and states

  • Use the newly designed fewer, clearer, and higher standards as a foundation for developing assessment systems that inform instructional improvement, support curricular innovation, and give students, parents, and communities better information about school performance and student progress
  • Work with other states to create national systems of assessment, data gathering, and data reporting and to create common validation frameworks for assessing the quality and effectiveness of state standards and to inform their periodic revision

By businesses, unions, nonprofit organizations, and other partners

  • Endorse the development of new assessment and data systems to strengthen knowledge about student learning and provide a stronger foundation for continuous school improvement and innovation
  • Engage in research and implementation of alternative assessments that better support the four strands of science learning identified in Taking Science to School

By philanthropy

  • Fund research and development efforts to create new assessment systems that measure the performance of students, teachers, schools, and states in meeting new standards and generate information to inform the continuous upgrading of those standards
  • Fund research on the effects of new standards and assessments on student performance and on instruction

Teaching and Professional Learning

1. Increase the supply of well-prepared teachers of mathematics and science at all grade levels by improving teacher preparation and recruitment

By the federal government, states, and school districts

  • Invest in the analysis of supply and demand for science and math teachers, especially in high-need school districts and schools
  • Support recruitment programs for math and science teachers; experiment with scholarships and pay incentives
  • Alter certification requirements to allow qualified candidates to enter teaching by innovative and rigorous alternative routes; enable museums, research institutions, and others to become teacher certifiers
  • Develop integrated programs of professional learning and quality improvement for teachers of science and mathematics; engage all teachers in professional learning that enables them to incorporate science and math learning across the curriculum
  • Make policy changes necessary to create an effective talent corps for schools, including principals and teachers, especially science and math teachers; encourage the dissemination of effective human capital management practices in areas such as teacher recruitment, hiring and retention, and compensation

By colleges and universities

  • Design innovative, tailored science and math preparation routes that encourage and facilitate science and math majors to enter teaching
  • Study program effectiveness through evidence from the student achievement by graduates of all programs, including math and science preparation
  • Follow the early career experiences of graduates and strengthen communication with schools and districts to inform preparation and support for novice teachers
  • Upgrade and increase required science and math courses for all undergraduates
  • Review undergraduate curriculum and instruction in science and math to determine whether teacher candidates, and all college students, are experiencing the kind of high-quality instruction that they will need to repeat as teachers
  • Strengthen connections with schools and school districts to improve effectiveness through shared mechanisms, such as setting strategic goals for clinical placement, and by involving science and math faculty along with experienced teachers in programs for future and practicing teachers
  • Develop innovative teacher preparation and residency programs with education entrepreneurs

By businesses, nonprofit organizations, unions, and other partners

  • Experiment with strategies to draw people with strong science and math backgrounds into teaching and increase their job satisfaction
  • Press states to allow alternative credentialing by museums and other institutions

By philanthropy

  • Support the strategic management of human capital with an emphasis on science and math teaching by states, districts, and educational entrepreneurs
  • Support research on teacher recruitment and effectiveness, especially to identify factors relevant to science and math
  • Support innovative strategies for new recruitment, retention, and certification pathways for science and math teachers

2. Improve professional learning for all teachers, with an eye toward revolutionizing math and science teaching

By the federal government, states, and school districts

  • Create and incentivize opportunities for teachers to experience powerful science and math learning themselves
  • Cease support for professional development in science and math that is disconnected from teaching practices in schools; replace with investment in strategic and coherent collaborative offerings that link coherent, sustained professional learning, rich in relevant science and math content, to direct practice changes in instruction in schools
  • Promote professional learning that engages teachers in data analysis, identification of students’ differentiated learning needs, and assessment of school-level interventions
  • Hold school leaders accountable for the professional learning environment in their schools and districts
  • Strengthen partnerships with science-rich institutions; use those partnerships to open new learning opportunities for educators
  •  Invest in sophisticated online professional development systems that facilitate learning communities and cyberlearning by teachers, along with research to enable the improvement of those systems
  •  Expand the use of master teachers and other strategies that strengthen practice, encourage continuous learning, and improve career satisfaction

Schools and Systems

1. Build high expectations for student achievement in mathematics and science into school and classroom culture and operations as a pathway to college and careers

By states, school districts, and charter organizations

  • Foster an ethos and culture emphasizing high expectations for math and science achievement by all students within each school and assess specific indicators of that culture using methods such as School Quality Reviews
  • Organize schools to focus on teaching and learning as their core mission with a strong emphasis on science and mathematics; enable schools to focus their resources (money, time, people) flexibly and accountably on increasing student performance
  • Build data-driven instructional improvement and innovation into the culture and professional learning of each school
  • Develop tools and technologies that enable students and families to track student progress and plan for the future with key indicators in science and math achievement linked to college-readiness
  • Explore and assess technology-based learning innovations in science and math learning, including digital media and games; document and expand those that show positive results; invest in promising cyberlearning to allow all teachers to support and reinforce student learning using new educational technologies

2. Enhance systemic capacity to support strong schools and act strategically to turn around or replace ineffective schools

By the federal government, states, and school districts

  • Create aligned data, accountability and knowledge management systems across K-16 education to support research and development for improvements in policy, practice, and strategy to increase student achievement, graduation, and post-secondary success; ensure that science achievement is included in the early generation models
  • Develop data and accountability systems that enable schools to use data to inform instructional improvement by individual teachers and school-wide; data on science achievement, especially in middle and high schools
  • Make the policy and management changes to generate and accelerate innovation, and facilitate connections to increase the talent and math and science assets available in schools
  • Foster a more rigorous approach to ongoing professional learning in many more districts, focused on keeping teachers up to date with emerging science and math knowledge and on effective, differentiated pedagogical techniques
  • Make policy changes and take administrative action to end policies and practices that result in persistent low achievement, and, in particular, close and replace schools that are low-performing
  • Stimulate the production of ideas and products that will support school and classroom innovations to increase math and science achievement through a variety of public funding sources beyond education including economic development, energy, and environmental quality departments
  • Identify school models and innovations in school design and instruction that have shown substantial achievement gains in mathematics and science, especially for under-performing middle and high school students
  • Remove barriers and pro-actively grow and scale effective school models through innovative governance and management arrangements with educational entrepreneurs; integrate with strategic human capital reforms
  • Call for research in areas where innovations do not exist or where there is a need for new knowledge, including basic research, implementation research, and tool development to advance math and science learning