THE FEDERAL ROLE IN K-12 MATHEMATICS REFORM
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,
YOUTH AND FAMILIES
SUBCOMMITTEE ON POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION,
TRAINING AND LIFE-LONG LEARNING
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, FEBRUARY 2, 2000
Serial No. 106-83
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Opening Statement Of Representative Michael N. Castle, Chairman, Subcommittee On Early Childhood, Youth, And Families. *
The Opening Statement Of Representative Dale E. Kildee, Ranking Member, Subcommittee On Early Childhood, Youth, And Families. *
The Opening Statement Of Representative Howard P. "Buck" Mckeon, Chairman, Subcommittee On Postsecondary Education, Training And Life-Long Learning. *
The Opening Statement Of Representative Matthew G. Martinez, Ranking Member, Subcommittee On Postsecondary Education, Training And Life-Long Learning. *
The Statement Of Judith S. Sunley, Interim Director, Office Of Education And Human Resources, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia. *
The Statement Of Kent McGuire, Assistant Secretary, Office Of Education Research And Improvement, U.S. Department Of Education, Washington, DC. *
The Statement Of James Milgram, Professor Of Mathematics, Stanford University, Stamford, California. *
The Statement Of Mark Schwartz, Parent, Livonia, Michigan. *
The Statement Of Susan Sarhady, Parent, Plano, Texas. *
The Statement Of James Rutherford, Education Advisor To The Executive Officer, American Association For The Advancement Of Science, Washington, DC. *
Appendix A-The Written Statement Of Representative Michael N. Castle, Chairman, Subcommittee On Early Childhood, Youth, And Families. *
Appendix B-The Written Statement Of Representative Dale E. Kildee, Ranking Member, Subcommittee On Early Childhood, Youth, And Families. *
Appendix C-The Written Statement Of Representative Howard P. "Buck" Mckeon, Chairman, Subcommittee On Postsecondary Education, Training And Life-Long Learning. *
Appendix D-The Written Statement Of Representative Matthew G. Martinez, Ranking Member, Subcommittee On Postsecondary Education, Training And Life-Long Learning. *
Appendix E-The Written Statement Of Judith S. Sunley, Interim Director, Office Of Education And Human Resources, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia. *
JOINT HEARING ON:
THE FEDERAL ROLE IN K-12 MATHEMATICS REFORM
Wednesday, February 2, 2000
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES AND SUBCOMMITTEE ON POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION, TRAINING AND LIFELONG LEARNING,
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:30 a.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Michael N. Castle [chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families] presiding.
Present: Representatives Castle, Goodling, Petri, McKeon, Johnson, McIntosh, Schaffer, Hilleary, Ehlers, DeMint, Isakson, Kildee, Martinez, Roemer, Scott, Woolsey, Romero-Barcelo, McCarthy, Tierney, Kind, Ford, Kucinich, and Holt.
Staff Present: Becky Campoverde, Communications Director; Victor Klatt, Education Policy Coordinator; Dan Lara, Press Secretary; Sally Lovejoy, Senior Education Policy Advisor; Patrick Lyden, Professional Staff Member; Maria Miller, Staff Assistant; D'Arcy Philps, Professional Staff Member; Michael Reynard, Media Assistant; Jo-Mane St. Martin, General Counsel; Bob Sweet, Professional Staff Member; Kevin Talley, Staff Director; Cedric R. Hendricks, Minority Deputy Counsel; June Harris, Minority Education Coordinator; Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Associate; Mary Ellen Ardouny, Minority Legislative Associate; and Roxana Folescu, Minority Staff Assistant.
The Opening Statement Of Representative Michael N. Castle, Chairman, Subcommittee On Early Childhood, Youth, And Families.
Mr. Castle. Ladies and gentlemen, if we could come to order.
A quorum being present, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, and the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, Training and Lifelong Learning, headed by Chairman McKeon, will come to order.
We are holding this joint subcommittee hearing today to hear testimony on the federal and kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics reform.
Under Committee Rule 12(b), opening statements are limited to the Chairman and the ranking minority member of each subcommittee. This will allow us to hear from our witnesses sooner, and to help members keep to their schedules. Therefore, if other members have statements, they may be included in the hearing record.
With that, I ask unanimous consent for the hearing record to remain open for 14 days to allow members' statements, witnesses' written testimony, and other material to be submitted for the record. Without objection, so ordered.
My name is Mike Castle, and I am the Chairman of the Early Childhood, Youth and Families Subcommittee. Mr. Kildee, who is right to my right, is the ranking member of that committee. I would like to welcome you to this joint hearing with Chairman Buck McKeon and his Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, Training and Lifelong Learning, on the federal role in math for grades K through 12.
Today, I am pleased to announce that we are joined by our colleagues from the Science Subcommittee on Basic Research, and I would like to recognize . . . I don't know if they are here yet, but they should be here at some point . . . Vern Ehlers and Lynn Woolsey, who have the privilege to serve on both the Education and Science Committees.
With the dawning of the 21st century, it is clear to me that proficiency in math and science will be critical if today's students are expected to fill the employment opportunities offered by tomorrow's high tech world.
Still, we watch with concern as our students' math scores remain low in relation to other industrialized nations. In fact, according to the 1998 Third International Mathematics and Science Study, American high school seniors scored worse than their counterparts in all but four countries, and were next to the last in physics and advanced math.
Our hearing today will focus on the 10 math programs supported in part by the National Science Foundation and endorsed by the United States Department of Education as exemplary or promising. Subsequent to the endorsement of these programs, it came to my attention that a letter signed by more than 200 math and science scholars was sent to Education Secretary Riley asking him to rescind the Department's endorsements.
In their letter, the scholars presented evidence that the endorsed programs adhered to a common philosophy of math that minimized essential computational skills and were not based on sound scientific research. In addition, they promoted a lower level of proficiency in mathematics than the newly adopted California state standards.
Decisions about school curriculum have been, and continue to be, a local decision. While I believe there is a limited role for the Federal Government to influence the choice of a quality math curriculum, I also believe that the Federal Government must take care not to have that influence override the state, local, or parental choice in curriculum or use that influence to pressure state and local schools to implement national math standards.
In addition, federal math research must be based on sound scientific research, and these studies must be completed before program recommendations are disseminated nationwide. As the United States Department of Education has stated, ``the single greatest predictor of success in college . . . not just for engineering or science majors but for all majors . . . is success in secondary school algebra.''
We all want to raise the math skills of our students, and I hope that this hearing can shed some light on the best way to achieve that goal.
I wish to thank each of you for taking time to be with us. In just a few moments, I will proceed with introductions of all of you as witnesses. But at this time I will yield to the ranking member of this subcommittee, Mr. Kildee, for any statement that he might have, and note that Chairman McKeon and Mr. Martinez might also wish to make brief statements.
See Appendix A For The Written Statement Of Representative Michael N. Castle, Chairman, Subcommittee On Early Childhood, Youth, And Families.
The Opening Statement Of Representative Dale E. Kildee, Ranking Member, Subcommittee On Early Childhood, Youth, And Families.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to join my Postsecondary Education Subcommittee colleague, Mr. Martinez, Chairman Castle, and Chairman McKeon at today's hearing on the federal role math reform and.
We all can agree that our nation's children deserve a top-notch education, and essential in this effort is math instruction that will enable our children to be successful later in life in employment whether they serve as mathematics teachers, doctors, nurses, cooks, or even members of this Congress. Our math has improved a bit lately, as have finally balanced the budget.
Critical to ensuring that our children receive a quality education is a research-tested curriculum, coupled with high-quality instruction and an environment conducive to learning. All of these variables affect student achievement. And while curriculum choices are a critical component, substandard learning environments and unqualified teachers will produce poor student achievement, no matter what curriculum is utilized.
What I believe is needed by many school districts across this nation is guidance on what research shows to increase student achievement. The recommendation of the Department of Education's mathematics and science panel should be one of many tools that school districts utilize in selecting and improving their curriculum.
For school districts and states whose standards are aligned with those issued by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the programs designed by the Department may be worth examining. For those whose standards are not aligned with the NCTM standards, the diligent process that we will hear about from Assistant Secretary McGuire and Dr. Rutherford may be useful in shaping curriculum decisions.
Overall, I believe it is critical that school districts have access to research on proven programs. We are at a critical time in American math education. Our nation has not had a good track record on math achievement, as the TIMSS report and other assessments such as the SAT and ACT have demonstrated.
What is even more troubling is that the math assessment results of women and minorities lag behind their peers. This translates into fewer women and minorities in careers that require math and science backgrounds. If existing methods have failed to turn this around, we must find a way to reverse this trend by ensuring that school districts have as much information as possible to make their decision.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for having this hearing today.
See Appendix B For The Written Statement Of Representative Dale E. Kildee, Ranking Member, Subcommittee On Early Childhood, Youth, And Families.
The Opening Statement Of Representative Howard P. "Buck" Mckeon, Chairman, Subcommittee On Postsecondary Education, Training And Life-Long Learning.
Mr. Castle. Well, thank you, Mr. Kildee, for your opening statement.
And I now recognize Mr. McKeon, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, Training and Lifelong Learning, for his opening statement. We have very long titles for all of our subcommittees on this committee.
Mr. McKeon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning. I, too, want to welcome all those in attendance this morning as we focus on the critical issue of math education in this country.
As a member from California who has spent considerable time on issues surrounding higher education, teacher quality, and job training programs, I am well aware of the shortcomings of far too many of our students in the area of math education, and the challenges we face on reversing this trend. These challenges simply cannot be ignored, especially in states such as mine that are critically dependent upon a technology-savvy workforce with a firm grasp of mathematics.
Professor Milgram, who is here with us today, points out in his prepared testimony that over half of all students attending the California state university system, which admits only the top third of the high school graduates from the state, have been required to take remedial math. This is up from 23 percent in 1989.
Clearly, if there is common ground around this issue, it is the recognition that at the very precise time mathematics is a critical skill, we seem to be doing a worse, not a better, job in preparing students in this area. The efforts of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and others have been to expand math to more students, in part by making it more appetizing.
Has this been successful? Have there been drawbacks? Is there valid evidence that these approaches have been working? Are these approaches appropriate for wide dissemination and implementation? I look eagerly forward to having these and many other questions addressed at this hearing.
I would like to point out that the purpose of this hearing is not to reject reform in mathematics education. Clearly, even in schools that have not instituted math reform, far too many students are falling through the cracks. Instead, we are here to look at what impact reform efforts have had on student achievement, and what role the Federal Government should play.
In this context, we must also remember that reform is not just a matter of a silver bullet curriculum. We must continue to explore the positive impact that parental involvement, high expectations, and highly qualified teachers have on ensuring that more students perform at higher levels of mathematics.
Again, I thank the witnesses for taking time to discuss this important issue with us today. I look forward to your testimony.
I yield back to Chairman Castle.
See Appendix C For The Written Statement Of Representative Howard P. "Buck" Mckeon, Chairman, Subcommittee On Postsecondary Education, Training And Life-Long Learning.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. McKeon.
I now recognize the ranking minority member of the Postsecondary Education Committee, Mr. Martinez, for his opening statement.
The Opening Statement Of Representative Matthew G. Martinez, Ranking Member, Subcommittee On Postsecondary Education, Training And Life-Long Learning.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Due to time constraints, I am going to submit my statement for the record, and I will make a few remarks.
First of all, I thank all of you for coming here today and giving us some of your time. We know you have busy schedules, and some of you have traveled a long way.
I want to just give you my own personal perspective of this. It is not a mystery that there is no magical solution to getting children interested in math. It takes a capable, dedicated teacher to do that.
Let me give you an example of my own personal experience. Up until I was in the 6th grade, I couldn't do math to save my life. One day my teacher asked, ``what is your problem?'' I said, ``I don't understand it.''
And she took the time to explain to me fractions, decimals, everything. She broke it down in a way that I could understand it. She made me interested in math, and I never had a problem with math after that.
Let me move on. I know all of you must have heard of the situation in Garfield High School where Mr. Escalente took about 21, 22 kids . . . I forget the exact number . . . and taught them a highly advanced math class. These kids took the Advanced Placement College test and they passed it. And everybody said, ``these poor Mexican kids from east L.A., from Garfield High School, had to be cheating.''
And all but one took the test again, because that one was standing on principles. Well, they scored higher the second time, under careful scrutiny, than they did the first time.
The point here is that Mr. Escalente was a capable, dedicated teacher, and he took these kids, and he developed their interest in math. A lot of kids don't become interested in math and science because they never know how exciting it can be, and nobody ever shows them how interesting it can be.
Some kids aren't interested in math because they never realize how important math will be in the rest of their lives, in everything they do. I think its necessary to point out the importance of math at an early age, and capture their interest. A qualified teacher and class size reduction will help because the teacher can work more closely with the students, as my teacher worked with me on an individual basis. Mr. Escalente only worked with 21, 22 students.
I am interested in hearing your testimony but I hope some of you touch on the fact that "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." It is the same with students. You can lead them to math, but you can't make them study, unless you get them interested in it and you make them realize how important it is to them in the rest of their lives.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back the balance of my time.
See Appendix D For The Written Statement Of Representative Matthew G. Martinez, Ranking Member, Subcommittee On Postsecondary Education, Training And Life-Long Learning.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Martinez, and we appreciate the openings of everybody. As we indicated earlier, for anyone who came in late, any other members who wish to submit an opening statement are entitled to do so.
Before the witnesses begin their testimony, let me just lay the groundwork for you. Some of you may be familiar with what happens here, but some may not. Essentially, I am going to take a few minutes to introduce all of you. I am going to do it much faster than your resumes deserve, simply because we need to conserve a little bit of time, so excuse me for that.
Each of you will have five minutes in which to speak. Now, that is usually where we really run into trouble because people sometimes want to read their statements. All of the members have the statements, and I have read them. One of your statements at least was at least 20 minutes, I figured, if it was read completely.
So you have four minutes in which to speak, one minute in which to close. That is, four minutes is signified, if this new system we have works, by a green light. The one-minute should be signified by a yellow light. And the last light will be a red light, and that means you need to conclude as rapidly as you can.
And we have to enforce that, to some degree, because after you are finished speaking all of us have five minutes in which to ask questions. If a member is asking a question when the five minutes is up, we will ask them to come to a conclusion quickly on the question and get it answered quickly, and then go on to the next.
But you want to give everybody an opportunity. And if we are going to do this within the timeframe provided for the hearing. We all have other schedules, so we need to move fairly rapidly. Hopefully we won't have any votes during this time. If the bells start ringing, I will tell you what is going to happen then, but I don't think we are going to have votes because of the day.
So with that, let me rush through the introductions, as I said, faster than I really should. The first witness will be Dr. Judith Sunley. Dr. Sunley is the Acting Education Division Director of the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. The National Science Foundation is an independent government agency whose mission it is to promote the progress of science and advance the national health prosperity and welfare of our citizens. NSF funds many systemic math initiatives, several of which were endorsed by the United States Department of Education.
Dr. Kent McGuire is the second witness. Dr. McGuire is the Director of the Office of Education Research and Improvement for the Department of Education here in Washington, D.C. As an Assistant Secretary, he is responsible for funding research and demonstration projects to improve education, as well as collecting and disseminating statistical information on the condition of education. He oversees the panel that recommended the 10 exemplary or promising math programs to Secretary Riley.
Next is Dr. James Milgram. Dr. Milgram has been a Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University for 30 years in Palo Alto, California. He is a Research Mathematician with a Ph.D. in mathematics. He has analyzed the effectiveness of the new ``new'' math programs and their impact on student math achievement. Dr. Milgram initiated the letter to Secretary Riley that was signed by 200 scholars asking that the endorsement of 10 math programs be withdrawn.
The next witness is, actually, I have this reversed, but let me do Susan Sarhady first. She is a concerned parent and constituent of Representative Sam Johnson of Texas, a member of this committee. She is here today to testify about her experiences with these new "new" math programs. Ms. Sarhady has almost 10 years of business experience, as well as being a homemaker and parent.
Dr. Mark Schwartz has also joined us today from Livonia. Did I say that correctly? Livonia? Michigan. He is a parent of three school-age children. He is a leader in his community's efforts to improve K through 12 math and science education. Dr. Schwartz holds a master's degree in electrical engineering, a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is the president of Mandella Sciences, Inc., a company employing numerous electrical engineers and computer scientists.
There is a space at the table. She will not testify but I believe she is right here. It is Ms. Rachel Tronstein. She is in the audience now but can answer questions and will come to the table when the testimony is done. She is joining Dr. Schwartz, and she is from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She was in the Core Plus Math Program endorsed by the Department of Education for four years. She was a member of the National Honor Society, class treasurer, and graduated in the top 10 percent of her class, all of which we congratulate you on, Rachel.
The final witness who will testify is Professor F. James Rutherford, who is the Education Advisor for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a nonprofit professional society dedicated to the advancement of scientific and technological excellence. He served as a member of the Math and Science Education Expert Panel. And, again, I apologize.
Mr. Johnson, I mentioned, has a constituent here, and he would like to say something briefly about her, and then we will start with the testimony.
Mr. Johnson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You pretty well covered it. I just would like to welcome Ms. Sarhady to the committee this morning, and tell the committee that she is very well qualified as the president of the Plano Parental Rights Council and came all the way from Texas to make sure that you get testimony from all sides.
I think we have many experts here today with degrees, and I have been saying for some time that we need to get education back in the hands of the parents. So we have got a parent here.
I welcome you to testify before the committee. Thank you for coming.
Mr. Castle. Actually, Mr. Johnson doesn't know this, but we brought you all the way from Texas to keep an eye on him here today.
We will go through all the witnesses before any questions. So with that, we will start with Dr. Sunley.
The Statement Of Judith S. Sunley, Interim Director, Office Of Education And Human Resources, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia.
Ms. Sunley. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittees. Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here this morning. I appreciate the opportunity to let you know what NSF does.
I have a lengthy written statement, which I would like included for the record.
Mr. Castle. That is a good point, and I am sorry to interrupt you. But without objection, all of your statements will be included in the record.
Ms. Sunley. Thank you.
As you noted, NSF is a federal agency whose mission is to promote the progress of science and engineering. Education in science and math has been part of our mandate since the beginning. Our education programs really focus on two areas . . . the workforce of scientists and engineers, and the math and science knowledge that all citizens need.
NSF approaches its education programming much as we approach everything else; namely, operating at the frontiers of knowledge and facilitating development and implementation of new ideas and approaches. We also link our K-12 programs with our core constituencies . . . the math and science community and higher education, which is where most of the math and science community work.
The three most significant aspects of NSF's K-12 education activity deal with research, instructional materials, and teachers, both in-service and pre-service. We hope to see all of these activities involve scientists, mathematicians, and educators.
Publication in 1989 of the Standards for K-12 Math Education by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or NCTM, had a significant impact on math education. These standards, arising from a community of practitioners and experts, in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, provided new ideas and approaches that created a starting point for discussion and action.
Perhaps the key decision underlying these standards was to focus on areas that would impact the broad student population. This stemmed from recognition that K-12 math education was failing large portions of our student population at a time when knowledge of and ability to use math were becoming increasingly important for the U.S. workforce.
NSF's programming shifted to accommodate the general interest in rising expectations in math for all students, resulting from the NCTM standards. First, we stepped up to the challenge of developing new instructional materials, providing partial support for 13 multi-year math curricula. Such curricular development is extremely expensive, not likely to be undertaken by textbook publishers, absent some means of reducing their risk.
Initial awards were made in 1990, with most of the materials reaching commercial status in the 1997/'98 timeframe. At the same time, many states and local districts were interested in how to address high expectations for students in their programs. This brought NSF into a new facilitative role, one that forced us to look at how all of the pieces of K-12 math and science education fit together.
The result was a new program in 1991, a statewide systemic initiative program. Based on the experience with states, we added the urban systemic initiatives and rural systemic initiatives in 1994 and '95. Through these programs, states and districts applied to NSF for funds to implement or to plan reformed efforts. They provided NSF with their plan for the activities they would carry out, which was then reviewed by external experts as the basis for a funding decision.
The participating states and districts know from the beginning that NSF funds will not support the full effort of implementation for math and science education reform. They describe in the proposal how they will use relevant funds from local, state, and national sources in carrying out their plan. For example, use of Eisenhower professional development funds.
The awardees are also aware that there is a high-risk character to the reform activities they are undertaking. We build in accountability mechanisms, agreed upon with the awardees, to demonstrate progress in meeting their plan relative to baselines.
I have focused this testimony on the two things I understood the committee to be most interested in. NSF has many other programs that the written testimony describes in somewhat greater detail.
NSF continually evaluates and modifies its programs, in consultation with the communities with which we work. Math education is, and should be, a dynamic process that takes many influences into account. We cannot afford to let it be static, nor can we afford to let our areas of disagreement mask the fact that there is much agreement among all affected parties as to the importance of math education for our youth, and as to the core knowledge base they will need.
Constructive dialogue is critical to pulling divergent ideas and opinions into productive activities that can influence student achievement for the better.
See Appendix E For The Written Statement Of Judith S. Sunley, Interim Director, Office Of Education And Human Resources, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Dr. Sunley.
You know, I almost can't even see these lights. These are new lights, so I don't know if you all can see them or not, but we appreciate . . .
Ms. Sunley. Sort of . . .
Mr. Castle. You did very well. I am not being critical. You did very well.
Ms. Sunley. . . . peripherally.
Mr. Castle. We will now go to Dr. McGuire, who I think is a friend of everyone up here.
The Statement Of Kent McGuire, Assistant Secretary, Office Of Education Research And Improvement, U.S. Department Of Education, Washington, DC.
Mr. McGuire. Mr. Chair and subcommittee members, thank you very much for the opportunity to testify. Your letter of invitation asked me to speak to the Department of Education's efforts to improve mathematics education broadly, and I think the written testimony tries to give you that full picture, and place the work of the expert panel in that context.
But since it is clear to me that it is the expert panel that is perhaps the most important motivating factor for the hearing, I will just take a few minutes to make just a few points about that work. And then, frankly, I really do look forward to the exchange.
Really, just two or three things I want to say at this moment. The first is this. In my view, we should respect the members of the Department's panel and applaud their good faith effort, dating back several years, to develop criteria, to review programs, and to make recommendations about math curricula that educators might want to learn more about.
These are well-respected and thoughtful people, and we should commend these folks, it seems to me, the people like them who serve on other panels that are currently operating, and all other kinds of peer review bodies that do good service for the government. I just want to make that the first thing I say, that these are good people.
The second thing I want to say is that, in my opinion, these discussions have . . . the ones that have developed since the release of the panel's recommendations in mathematics point in my view to a much more important issue for all of us.
It goes something like this . . . that while on the one hand I think we do have an obligation to offer as much guidance as we possibly can to the field about what is currently available, we should, at the same time, know that at any point in time we don't have perfect information, and that there is much in the debate that has ensued around the panel's recommendation, and that preceded the panel's work, that really I think would yield nicely to, and should become the focus of, continued research investment at OERI. That is really the focus I have tried to bring to the agency.
There are a number of really important questions that I think deserve our attention. You know, should students be allowed to use calculators and under what circumstances? What is the balance that ought to be struck between instructional activities that require students to memorize and practice their multiplication tables, like my elementary school kids do today? And how are these things put together in the curriculum?
We ought to go ahead and study some of these things much more vigorously and see if that helps us with the debate.
And the third point I want to make is simply that we have learned, I believe, quite a bit from this current generation of expert panels. We know, for instance, that it is a much harder activity in which to engage than I believe people had imagined. The resources required to do them well, I think we underestimated. The time it takes to do this job well, I think we underestimated.
And so we will use that knowledge as we continue to work in this . . . on these endeavors. And should the Congress continue to want us to, we expect to get better and better at it.
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
See Appendix F For The Written Statement Of Kent McGuire, Assistant Secretary, Office Of Education Research And Improvement, U.S. Department Of Education, Washington, DC.
Mr. Castle. Thank you very much, Dr. McGuire. We appreciate your testimony.
Next we will go to Dr. Milgram, who I think came the furthest of any of the witnesses, and we appreciate that.
Can all of you move the microphones closer, so we can hear you throughout the whole room.
Mr. Milgram. Is this working?
Mr. Castle. Maybe even a little closer.
Mr. Milgram. Okay. How is this?
Mr. Castle. Okay.
The Statement Of James Milgram, Professor Of Mathematics, Stanford University, Stamford, California.
Mr. Milgram. Okay. Mr. Chairman and everyone, I am honored to be here today to talk about the state of mathematics in this country with the distinguished members of this joint committee.
Let me start out by saying that the K through 12 teachers in this country are dedicated professionals. I have the utmost respect for them. But all too often their knowledge of mathematics is extremely superficial, and when this happens they are easily swayed by trendy and unproven programs which typically offer a superficial or shallow treatment of the subject, leading to weak backgrounds in their students.
I am a research mathematician at Stanford University, but two things obligated me to spend much of my time for the past three years studying issues related to K through 12 mathematics. The first was a sequence of courses I gave in New Mexico where I had too many bright, very highly motivated students in my math classes, whose third-rate K through 12 educations in mathematics could not be overcome no matter how hard these students were willing to work.
The second came from the Commission designing President Clinton's proposed national 8th grade mathematics exam. The Commission, including many of the foremost math education specialists in the country, distributed a list of 14 proposed problems. I and my colleagues at Stanford were amazed to find that three of the problems have serious errors. One was so ill-posed that it could not be solved, one had an incorrect solution included with it.
We later testified to that Commission about these difficulties, and it became clear that the level of mathematical understanding on the part of the educators . . . math educators on that panel was unimpressive. I was disturbed when I realized that it is these people who are determining the mathematics that our children learn in school.
I was especially disturbed in view of the dramatic drop in content knowledge that we have been seeing in the students coming to the universities in recent years.
This has been mentioned. Since 1989, the percentage of entering students in the California state university system, the largest state system in the country, that were required to take remedial courses in mathematics has increased almost two and a half times from 23 percent in 1989 to 55 percent today. And CSU's mission is restricted to the top 30 percent of high school graduates.
This failure has important consequences for the nation. Although large numbers of U.S. students entering the universities say they are interested in majoring in technical areas, very few get such degrees today. In fact, the number is approximately 28,000 annually.
On the other hand, there are about 100,000 new jobs in these areas each year. Last year, Congress had to mandate an additional 142,000 new work visas for technically-trained people, and these visas were used up by June 11, 1999, so great was the demand for these qualified non-citizens. A large part of the blame rests with the mathematics programs of the type recommended by the Department of Education recently as exemplary and promising.
These programs are all designed to closely align with the 1989 NCTM math standards . . . standards which explicitly assume that calculators are always available, and as a consequence of this students never develop a mastery of basic arithmetic operations.
The standards also require . . . and this is, in a way, more important . . . that skills in algebra be downplayed. And as was mentioned, again, skills in algebra . . . not the formal skills with changing letters, understanding that numbers can be represented by letters, but the skills with symbolic manipulation . . . are the single most important determining factor for success in college.
And so let me explain this a little more. The co-chairman of the expert panel, Steven Leimwand, who was also one of the designers of the 1989 NCTM standards, recently stated that the curricula endorsed by the Department of Education, and I quote, ``create a common core of math that all students can master.'' Not material that all students need to know or should master, simply material that he believes all students can learn.
The support for these programs in the Department of Education is ultimately the responsibility of EHR at the National Science Foundation. EHR funded the development of at least six exemplary and promising programs. And it is also probably worth noting that at the present time there is no valid research that shows that any of these programs of this type are effective.
In conclusion, I believe that the sad state of mathematics knowledge among high school graduates in this country is primarily the responsibility of two agencies . . . the Department of Education and Human Resources at the NSF, and the Department of Education. The programs they develop and aggressively push simply set too low a standard.
See Appendix G For The Written Statement Of James Milgram, Professor Of Mathematics, Stanford University, Stamford, California.
Mr. Castle. Thank you very much, Dr. Milgram, and we will go to Dr. Schwartz next. We will just stay in the order in which you are sitting.
The Statement Of Mark Schwartz, Parent, Livonia, Michigan.
Mr. Schwartz. Thank you. Mr. Chairman and esteemed members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here today. I speak today as a concerned father. I also speak as a business owner and employer of engineers and computer scientists. In 1993, a radical approach for teaching mathematics to high school students called Core Plus was adopted at Andover High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
In the summer of '97, several, if not all, of the first wave of Core Plus students who took math placement tests at college experienced difficulties with these tests. Horror stories from the freshman college years of Andover graduates, with several years of Core Plus training, were told directly to the Bloomfield Hills School Board and school district superintendent, to no avail.
One tactic of these administrators was to meet with the parents individually and blame their child's math difficulty on not being a good student. A second strategy was to blame the college which gave the entrance exam for not being forward thinking. When the school district stonewalled all requests to even investigate the cause of the Core Plus graduates' problems, a number of these parents, including myself, joined to form Bloomfield Hills Parents for Excellence in Math Education.
This is a grassroots effort to support the best math curriculum for all students. Rather than trying to completely throw out the reform math program, our organization requested choice of a traditional math program in addition to the Core Plus. We believe that parents should be able to make their own decision on such an important issue.
Bloomfield Hills parents collected signatures on a petition for choice, went to School Board meetings, held our own meetings, and attended school-sponsored discussions. The Bloomfield Hills school district used all its resources to push the Core Plus program and reform education.
Finally, in an attempt to assist Bloomfield Hills parents and resolve the issue of the effects of Core Plus, Professor Bachelis of Wayne State University singlehandedly took on the task of investigating the impact of Core Plus by way of an extensive survey.
Bachelis' survey of the class of '97 was next analyzed by Professor James Milgram of Stanford, who we just heard from. As a result of our organization's efforts, but primarily due to the press given the work of Bachelis and Milgram, Bloomfield Hills school district felt sufficient pressure to bandaid Core Plus by adding back more quantitative problem solving.
The take-home lesson is that programs which are such a radical departure from the time-tested ways of teaching mathematics cannot be introduced in a wholesale fashion. The Bloomfield Hills school district should have provided a safety net for the Core Plus student pioneers.
New new math proponents have been shown to be willing to use high school students as guinea pigs. If medical doctors experimented on our children in the same fashion the school districts do, they would be in jail.
I would like to give some analogies to the business world. In the early 1980s, the American auto industry was under assault. The oil embargo and its resulting high gas prices gave the Japanese a foot in the door with their subcompact vehicles. We watched as General Motors lost market share and the U.S. Government had to prop up Chrysler. The overseas pressure forced a reluctant U.S. auto industry to completely transform its operations, policies, and culture.
The educational system is precisely where the U.S. auto industry was in 1980 . . . institutionalized, inefficient, and stagnant. The only thing that could have forced GM to change was competition. The same is true of today's educational system.
The Justice Department recently filed suit against Microsoft for monopoly practices, and then suggested that Microsoft may need to be split into three companies. Yet each year Microsoft delivers more software, better software, and cheaper software for consumers. They have done this so successfully that Microsoft is now one of our nation's jewels.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department ignores the largest monopoly in the world . . . the United States public education system. Each year the public schools deliver lower quality students and spend more money doing so. They produce students who are not prepared to compete in the modern world. They stifle the efforts of teachers, and they alienate the consumers. Our public school systems need to be held accountable to their consumers, parents, and students.
To truly transform the public education system, we must do what the Japanese did to our auto industry. We must put pressure of competition into the equation. We must give parents choice.
Our founders recorded this wisdom in the 10th amendment by reserving these issues to the local community. Now some will argue if we are to give parents choice, the public school system will suffer. I disagree. Our public schools will not fail because of choice; they will innovate.
See Appendix H For The Written Statement Of Mark Schwartz, Parent, Livonia, Michigan.
Mr. Castle. Thank you very much, Dr. Schwartz.
Ms. Sarhady is next.
The Statement Of Susan Sarhady, Parent, Plano, Texas.
Ms. Sarhady. Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. It is truly a privilege. It is difficult to know how to condense the issue that has consumed my life for over a year and a half to a mere five minutes. I sit before you as a representative of the numerous parents who have related their stories to me.
This is the story of my friend Sally, whose two boys took an entrance exam for a private school. The youngest, in his first year of Connected Math, qualified for admission, but the oldest, who was in his third year of Connected Math, didn't because of his lack of algebra skills.
This is the story of my friend Melinda, whose gifted son has never scored below a 90 on any portion of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, who during his second year in Connected Math scored a 74 on math computation. There are many, many, many more stories, and certainly not enough time here to tell them all. But I have brought some letters from parents who wanted their stories to be heard, and I ask that those be added to the official record.
Whether you agree with the concept of reform math or not, you must agree that it is controversial and without a proven track record, and that alone is of great concern to parents. In 1996, our school district became one of the first six districts to participate in the Texas statewide systemic initiative pilot of Connected Math. Four middle schools in our district were chosen, without School Board approval, without parental approval, without so much as a public meeting, completely bypassing, with the aid of federal funds . . . the theory of local control.
A letter from the school district allowed for the release of identifiable, individual student test information without any kind of parental approval or notification . . . a clear privacy violation. During the third year of the pilot, despite strong opposition from parents, the Connected Math textbooks were adopted for use in all of our middle schools by unanimous vote of the local School Board.
Section 26003 of the Texas Education Code says in part, ``A parent is entitled to request, with the expectation that the request will not be unreasonably denied, the addition of a specific academic class if sufficient interest is shown in the addition of the class to make it economically practical.''
We have yet to be granted the addition of an alternative to Connected Math, despite the fact that we have tried everything from filing a grievance before the School Board to an appeal to the Texas Education Agency to a costly petition drive that resulted in over 600 petitions from the parents of students asking for an alternative. As a last resort, six parents even filed a federal lawsuit last fall.
Last October, I was amazed to read that the Department of Education had issued a report calling Connected Math exemplary. Within days, our school district had principals handing out copies of the press release at parent meetings. They also made sure the local newspaper got a copy, and, of course, it made front page news.
The secondary math coordinator in our district was quoted as saying he considers the selection of Connected Math a vindication of the district's choice to implement it. Parent opposition to the program doesn't seem to matter to the school district anymore.
Millions of dollars have been spent to design math programs that align themselves with the NCTM standards. Millions more are spent by the statewide systemic initiatives to ``reform science and mathematic education for all of its students by reforming curriculum and assessment through changes in teacher development.''
After that, even more is spent to issue a report saying the end product of the millions spent is exemplary. But the effect of all this money spent on child achievement is exemplary. Achievement is a hotly debated topic, and most conspicuously parents have been left out of the whole process.
You asked what role the Federal Government should play in improving mathematics instruction in our schools. I would ask that much stricter controls be put in place to prevent schools from using untested programs without the informed consent of parents and students. True local control must include from the outset not just administrators but parents.
Some of us have the fortitude to do battle with our local school districts, if necessary, but we cannot take on the Federal Government as well. At the very least, these types of federal initiatives should first do no harm.
See Appendix I For The Written Statement of Susan Sarhady, Parent, Plano, Texas, and additional materials submitted for the record.
Mr. Castle. Thank you very much, Ms. Sarhady. We appreciate that.
And Dr. Rutherford is our cleanup hitter.
The Statement Of James Rutherford, Education Advisor To The Executive Officer, American Association For The Advancement Of Science, Washington, DC.
Mr. Rutherford. Mr. Chairman, members, thank you for the opportunity to be here and explain to you and for you some of the work of the expert panel. The panel itself is composed of really highly qualified people. They are knowledgeable. They are experienced. In one-way and another, they have been working in science and mathematics education, most of them for decades.
They are, without exception, committed to the notion that our students should become the best in the world in their understanding of mathematics and science, and they are willing to work toward that end.
Collectively, as a group, as a panel, it seems to me that they match the nature of the work that had to be done. This is a group that was going to help set policy and design procedures in science and mathematics education. And, hence, it seemed appropriate that they come from classrooms, teachers, people who are responsible for curriculum and overseeing programs in the schools, people who train teachers in mathematics and science, science and mathematicians, individuals who work for organizations that care, such as the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and the National Academy of Sciences.
So it was an appropriate group and a well-connected group, connected to the schools, connected to science and mathematics, to higher education, and to the history. Even so, it didn't feel it was entirely prepared for this undertaking and spent a good deal of time in preparation itself.
We read background papers and talked about them and shared ideas. We looked at what research had been going on. We brought in experts to talk to us about the nature of the research and how you find out how various programs work and don't work.
The committee studied, for example, the chapters and benchmarks for science literacy, a document that covers science and mathematics and technology learning, that spent two years investigating all of the research in the English language, and some in other languages, bearing on the learning of science, mathematics, and technology. So it seems to me they were the right kind of people and properly prepared.
I speak for myself, not for the panel as a whole. I have no authority to do that because that charge is much too sweeping. The legislation referred to all grade levels, full range in science and complexity, deal with educational policy, research findings, practices and politics, much too much for a group to do in a reasonable period of time.
So after much discussion and examination, the panel decided that its main responsibility would be to design an effective, fair, and manageable process for assessing K-12 science/mathematics instructional materials, including defining the criteria to be used in the process and the nature of the process itself.
It intended to move the process of making judgments about materials, as well as it could, away from anecdotal kinds of information to more systematic and objective sorts. In that light, then, the panel did not see itself as the primary reviewers of instructional materials but as people who would design a system and oversee its use.
At best, they could do a reasonable first version, but build it in such a way that it could be improved upon and expanded with time. The panel worked, agreeing upon a criterion. It worked on design. It tried to figure out how the reviewers . . . after all, we didn't even know how many there would be . . . what would they need to know? What kinds of skills? How could it be arranged so that you would have a systematic and fair-minded when no one submission would be reviewed by the same panelists?
In the process, then, to make sure that we were on track as it begins to crystallize, we actually ran pilots. We found out how to get people to do this kind of assessment. We had them assess the materials. We examined their reports. They were all interviewed, and we learned from that process.
A third party group was brought in to observe the process of the panel itself and submitted a report indicating that it was making headway towards developing clear and coherent criteria and indicators. Its pilots were well conceived and informative, and it was working in a way to reach consensus.
I won't describe the review process, but to accept that it involved two panels looking at each submission, to deal with the criteria, to make decisions, citing evidence, citing the arguments for their evidence, and citing the reasoning for their rating. These were returned, and to the degree they seemed promising then they went to a separate panel that was composed of experts in the process of impact in educational matters.
So that is how the process worked. The panel itself only came in at the end of the process to see if it had been properly carried out by the process, and to look at these various reports and try to come to some decisions, which it did.
I hope, Mr. Chairman, that there can be some talk about the future of this because the panel, after three years of experience, I think, is in a position to provide interesting insights and ideas individually on how the process might be improved or how the whole thing might be reexamined.
See Appendix J For The Written Statement Of James Rutherford, Education Advisor To The Executive Officer, American Association For The Advancement Of Science, Washington, DC.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Dr. Rutherford. We appreciate that. I am not sure how much in depth we can go into how to improve the particular process today, but it is interesting to hear you say that.
The time has now come for all of us to ask questions. Please keep a couple of things in mind. One is get the microphones as close possible. There is a way it can be too far away. Secondly, be as brief as you can because each of us has five minutes. I hope mine hasn't begun yet.
Each of us has five minutes for questioning. I would like to ask a few witnesses questions, and perhaps we can avoid asking the panelists the same questions twice.
If we could ask Rachel to come to the table. I would like to begin with her. So if she could go there, we will start the questioning now.
Rachel, as I understand it, and maybe I am wrong about this, but I think you experienced some form of this new math teaching. I would like to hear, you will have to do it briefly, but I would like to hear your reaction to it. In addition, I should point out to anyone who wasn't here that you are a good student with a very good academic record.
Ms. Tronstein. Thank you. Yes, I went through four years of a Core Plus curriculum. I was in the accelerated program, and I also had many advantages over most Core Plus students. I first attended a private day school with a very traditional math program. I was enrolled in Algebra II in 8th grade, which traditionally is the curriculum for a junior in high school. So I had a very good, solid understanding of the fundamentals of math.
I then entered Andover High School, where I was in the Core Plus curriculum, and I went through four years. I took Calculus my senior year because I was in the accelerated track, and also I received private tutoring for my entire four years of high school because my parents were concerned that I wasn't getting a very good understanding of the fundamentals and basics of math.
And I also attended Stanford University's summer session for high school students in the summer of 1998, and I took a remedial pre-calculus course. It was the same course that I had just finished at Andover High School. I went . . .
Mr. Castle. Dr. Milgram was your teacher?
Ms. Tronstein. No. GSI. And a lot of those concepts were concepts to which I had never been exposed, which was obviously very frustrating because every other student in the class had.
Right now, I am a student at the University of Michigan. I am a first-year student. I took Calculus I fall term. I received a B minus, while in my other three classes I received A's, and I worked harder in the Calculus course. And I would just like to tell you a few problems that I see with the Core Plus curriculum.
In theory, it is fabulous. However, it fails to teach students basic mathematical skills required for postsecondary educational success. It creates a calculator dependency. And, sure, you can compute an answer, but you have no understanding of how or why that answer is correct, which does not enable you to understand further calculations or applications.
What would be better is to use a calculator with a traditional math program, so you have a visual representation of the problem at hand and you can solve the problem with traditional and reform math.
And also, it created a group of students who are ashamed of their math ability. Many students have shied away from math courses, and also science courses such as physics or chemistry, because they are afraid that they don't have the mathematical basis to succeed in these courses.
That is not the goal of education. It should open doors, not close them. And that is basically it. It created a group of students graduating from the 14th best public school in the nation, according to Newsweek, who shy away from math and careers that are math-oriented because of this curriculum.
See Appendix K For The Written Statement Of Rachel Tronstein, Student, University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Rachel.
I would like to ask further questions, but I want to go to Dr. McGuire before my time elapses here. Maybe I may not have this quite right, so feel free to correct me if I get it wrong. Basically, I don't know if I totally understand the purpose of the Federal Government through the Department of Education. Actually, it is a broader Department of Education issue, not just a research issue, offering guidance on the teaching methodologies which are available.
I understand you and OERI, the group you work with, are doing the research for that, but I am a little surprised that they have offered something, new and different that is not working particularly well. So I would just like to hear your thoughts on that.
I would also like to hear your thoughts on the status of all of this today? I know this has been somewhat controversial, and you have received the letter which Dr. Milgram initiated. Is the Department still supporting this? Are you reviewing it? Where does it stand today in terms of your support of these concepts?
Mr. McGuire. Let me answer your second question first. The math and science panel is not quite done with its work yet, though we certainly expect it to complete its work in the next several months. There are some science recommendations that are forthcoming.
There are several other panels operating, all at different stages of completion in their work. There is a technology panel that is I think soon to bring recommendations to the Secretary. There is a gender equity panel that has a set of recommendations it is prepared I think now to bring to the Secretary. There is a safe and drug-free schools panel that isn't quite ready to do that.
And these panels have a number of different histories, in terms of why they have come to exist and the like. So we have several panels going on. They are all at various stages in their work.
Congress, remember, asked us to take this task on. In fact . . .
Mr. Castle. Asked who?
Mr. McGuire. It is required in our legislative authority that we do this. I wasn't here then, but I suspect that there is a legitimate interest and concern on the part of the Congress to see that we get out to the field as much information and insight into the quality of all kinds of things. So what we are doing here is making a good faith effort to interpret and exercise that authority.
Mr. Castle. My time is up, and I am going to have to pass the baton to Mr. Kildee. I understand what you said about what Congress did originally. Actually, it is going to be Mr. Martinez, the order in which people came.
I understand what you said about that, but to me it is a confusing message because it has the form of not just a recommendation but also an endorsement. That is the message which I have heard here, and before this hearing is over I would like to get that straightened out a little bit. Iíll just tell you that for background. Let me turn to Mr. Martinez.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Rutherford, when the panel was created in Congress . . . and I remember when Congress began putting this together . . . we expected that you were going to form a panel that would find successful programs and disseminate that information to various school districts, never with the intent that you were saying that you have to use this program. None of these programs have been mandated, have they?
Mr. Rutherford. They certainly have not been mandated, and I can tell you that the panel members, being the kinds of people they are, would not have been engaged in an enterprise in which they were going to tell school districts how they should run their business, including what they should use and not use.
Part of what they thought they were up to was to provide the very thing that would make that GM analogy work. The traditional programs were not working back in the first international assessment, the second international assessment, the third international assessment. Competition is needed, and a lot of what these programs that are being looked at . . . is providing some competition, which may or may not work, incidentally, but provides the main publishers, who are the GMs of the day, to reconsider.
So the panel didn't think it was mandating anything but trying to seriously look at what the possibilities were with regard to instructional materials.
Mr. Martinez. Isnít it true that the program in Connecticut, and have already proven in Connecticut, that it has raised math scores by 20 percent? And that that is one of the programs that is recommended by the panel?
Mr. Rutherford. I don't remember, Mr. Martinez. We looked at lots of programs. I don't remember the details. I can only say this. That I have been in education looking at things for 50 years at least, and it is almost always possible to find data and evidence to support a program. And it is almost always possible to find data that contradict it.
I have been on both sides of that, and so part of what the panel was trying to do is to see if it would be possible, get some series and put some process in it, that there could be a convergence in the ways in which information data were accepted to determine what was successful and not.
Mr. Martinez. Then, in that instance, start the problem Ms Sarhady mentioned, as I understand it, is really with the School Board that has insisted on using this system that the constituency there does not want used, is that right?
Ms. Sarhady. Yes, although it is a little bit more complicated than that. Because the teacher training is provided under the Texas statewide systemic initiative when the pilots were first begun, and that basically, then, is federal funds to train for a program that was implemented without School Board approval at that time.
Three years later, enough teachers and administrators, if you will, thought that the program was absolutely wonderful, and so we really didn't have a chance to try to get a word in edgewise to say, ``Wait. Let us hold off a while.'' It had already been in place for three years before parents got to stand up and say, ``hold on now.''
Mr. Martinez. Is the School Board responsive to you? Is the School Board against using this program, or is the School Board ignoring you and going ahead with it?
Ms. Sarhady. They voted unanimously to adopt the textbooks.
Mr. Martinez. It appears that your problem is with your School Board. Those School Board members are elected members, correct?
Ms. Sarhady. Yes.
Mr. Martinez. And it is your constituency that elects them. How many Board members are there? Are there more than five?
Ms. Sarhady. Seven.
Mr. Martinez. Seven? Do you have elections where four run and then three run?
Ms. Sarhady. No. Two, two, and three.
Mr. Martinez. Two, two, and three. So there are staggered terms. Well, constituents who are dissatisfied can eventually select a new School Board that will support their programs.
Ms. Sarhady. Again, I would agree, although the point was is that the pilot was undertaken without any parental notification, without any School Board approval. And so by the time three years of that pilot had gone by, anybody that wanted to raise any concerns, it was basically too late in the process for parents to get involved and make a difference.
Mr. Martinez. Who were the people that actually mandated that?
Ms. Sarhady. Well, it came by way of the Texas statewide systemic initiative, yes. And the school district agreed to participate in the pilot.
Mr. Martinez. It appears that the problem there is with the state, because the Federal Government did not mandate that program. We gave the state funds and told them that we expect certain success rates, but the Federal Government tries to make the people or entities that are receiving funds as accountable as possible for the way that money is used.
Ms. Sarhady. Yes. But it is my understanding that the Texas statewide systemic initiative has never issued a full report of any success with that program. In addition to that, the only test that has been used, certainly in our district, possibly in all of the other districts as well, is the Texas assessment of academic skills, which is, by no stretch of the imagination, an achievement test. As a minimum . . .
Mr. Martinez. Here again, I say that the problems exist with your local School Board and your state. I read a report recently of the so-called tremendous progress in education in Texas, and it turns out that it is not true in many cases.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Martinez.
We will now go to the Chairman of the full committee of education, Mr. Goodling.
Mr. Goodling. I think in response to the last discussion that was going on, I am afraid federal dollars and federal established expert panels sometimes takes away the good, common sense thinking of the locals and the state people. I hate to think we are that powerful, but I am afraid that that is possibly true.
I would like to believe what we are saying, Assistant Secretary McGuire, in relationship to what NAEP said, as far as improvement in math is concerned. Unfortunately, I believe the Department at the present time is, as a matter of fact, scrutinizing just how that test was carried out.
We have discovered, I believe, that an awful lot of people were kept from taking that test, and unfortunately, that is the problem we run into. When you talk about increased standards and higher assessments, then all of a sudden people find all sorts of great ways to make sure that they don't look bad as you are reading about in New York at the present time.
My fear is how widespread it was to pull students who obviously weren't going to do well from taking the test. That takes away everything we wanted to find out. There is no legitimacy to it.
The other observation is this is frightening to me because I don't understand it. Secondly, I hope it isn't saying that we are going the spelling route because it is important to understand the students language in order to decide whether or not their work has good content.
One of the experts were supposed to have said it is time to recognize that for many students real mathematical power on the one hand, and facility with multi-digit pencil and paper computational algorithms on the other, are mutually exclusive. In fact, it is time to acknowledge that continuing to teach these skills to our students is not only unnecessary but also counterproductive and downright dangerous.
I am not sure that the statement isn't downright dangerous. It is kind of frightening to me. I am not as patient as I once was, but every time I stand in line to pay my bill and it is $20.07, and I give the clerk a $20 bill and a nick and two pennies, because I don't want a whole bunch of change, I realize I am holding this line forever, because I have just thrown a real curve ball to that poor clerk.
I hope that doesn't have anything to do with whatever this paragraph is that I just read. I went to my expert, and I think he is going to have some questions on that also because maybe I am not the only one that doesn't understand what it means. I hope it doesn't mean that knowing what you have said is more important that learning to spell.
And I yield back my time.
Mr. Castle. Dr. McGuire, if you want to respond briefly, and the Chair may have another question, go ahead and do so.
Mr. McGuire. Very briefly. I mean, I think . . . this quote I think . . . I worry about whether it is in proper context. I would really point to Jim's important remark that the panel, I don't think, understood the issue in those terms. The Department is as concerned with respect to the NAEP issues as you are, Mr. Goodling, about inclusion. We just have to work on that. And we certainly don't endorse any particular approach in curriculum or in instruction.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Dr. McGuire.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Regarding your previous discussion, Mr. Chairman, with Dr. McGuire the genesis of this situation lies with Congress and not with the Department. In Goals 2000, passed in 1994, Section 941(d), we required that the department make recommendations on the quality of programs. So the genesis is with the Congress here, and this bill was written on Capitol Hill, not Mount Sinai. So we may want to . . .
. . . take a look at it also ourselves. I just want to point that out.
Iíd like to ask a question of Dr. Milgram. In California, there are over 30,000, maybe 40,000 teachers who are teaching without regular certificates, or are teaching outside teaching field. Are there many teachers teaching math in California, or throughout the country for that matter, who are teaching outside their teaching field?
Mr. Milgram. Well, I can only answer for California.
Mr. Kildee. Okay.
Mr. Milgram. We have an exam called the CBST, which is designed to test teacher competence in basic fields, one of which is mathematics. Now, the CBST exam is written to a 6th to 7th grade level. Better than 70 percent of the elementary school teachers that take the exam fail it.
Mr. Kildee. That is alarming.
Mr. Milgram. It is, indeed, alarming. And the teachers are certainly a large . . . that came out wrong. The teacher preparation in the subject is a very major problem that we have to deal with. And somehow my view is that that is the primary problem we have to deal with, that putting in experimental curricula only compounds the problem that the teachers have to deal with.
So, in California, we are preparing to spend an enormous amount of money over the next summer and the next year to just upgrade teachers' skills. And then when we get this kind of a curve ball from above, saying, oh, back off from what we have been doing for the past three years, it kind of makes it very difficult for us.
Mr. Kildee. At what level do we make the transition in the K-12 curriculum from just straight arithmetic to math? Let me make a distinction. At what level should we be making that transition from straight arithmetic to mathematics?
Mr. Milgram. Well, the current . . . I mean, trends for the past, I would say, about 15 years have been to start introducing concepts in algebra and geometry already in first grade, and to some extent even in kindergarten. So the current trend is . . . and this is across this country as well as internationally . . . is to introduce all of these concepts together.
In international programs, such as Japan, Singapore, Germany, Hungary, Russia, this seems to work very well, and they come out with very well-educated students that perform admirably, it appears. In this country, it is still confusing.
Mr. Kildee. We really do very little math in the early grades. We do more arithmetic in this country don't we?
Mr. Milgram. We do more arithmetic, but the concepts are being introduced. So, yes, even in first grade you will see standards that say students should understand that numbers . . . that letters can be substituted for numbers.
Mr. Kildee. Okay. Let me ask a question of Dr. McGuire. One of the topics mentioned in the open letter to the Secretary was concern that there were too few mathematicians on the expert panel. Was there a specific reason why there were not additional mathematicians on the panel?
Mr. McGuire. Let me just, as I get ready to answer that question, introduce my colleague Linda Rosen, who I am glad you agreed could join us at the table during this question and answer period. She is responsible for the Department's initiatives in mathematics, and it struck me, given the nature of the discussion here, good to have her.
I think that a very good faith effort was made three plus years ago to put this panel together in a way that would be broadly representative of the interest in the math and education community. I wasn't involved in that process at the time, but as I have asked questions about it what I have come to understand is that there was no conscious decision to ignore mathematicians in the research community, but, rather, a number of people sat down and tried to think about leadership in the math community, what would give this effort a kind of faith validity, if you will.
A set of names was then assembled and recommended to the then Assistant Secretary, Sharon Robinson, who apparently made the decision that this was a sound and qualified group to engage in this work.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Castle. Thank you.
Mr. Goodling. Mr. Chairman, could I correct . . .
Mr. Castle. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Goodling. For the record, I should correct my mathematics, because the example I gave didn't make sense.
What I should have said is my bill was $19.67, and I gave them a $20 bill and two pennies.
And got them all messed up.
Mr. Kind. That is all right, Mr. Chairman. We had a calculator on this side.
Mr. Castle. Mr. McKeon?
Mr. Goodling. That came from Congressman Kind.
Mr. McKeon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The thing that keeps resounding in my head as this whole thing is being discussed here is unintended consequences. I think the Congress probably had good intention of trying to improve something. We probably heard there was a problem out there with math, and we thought, in our superhuman powers here we could fix that. So we passed a law. Fortunately, it was in '94. I am glad you said when that happened. It is good to put that in its proper perspective in history. We try not to do those same mistakes now.
But then the members of the Department and the Science Foundation went to work to carry out those wonderful intentions of Congress, and maybe some mistakes were made along the way because somebody that understood the process a little bit better was left off the committee.
But the problem is, down at the end of the row, we have students that are used as guinea pigs, and it is very hard to go back and make up three years of their life. That is the thing that really bothers me.
Could you, Ms. Sarhady, very briefly, just give me a definition of ``connected mathematics''?
Ms. Sarhady. It is a three-year integrated mathematics program for grades 6 through 8 that uses primarily what we call discovery learning rather than traditionally presenting one subject . . . not subject, but one item after another.
Mr. McKeon. That is good enough.
Ms. Sarhady. Sorry. You discover the concept presented in an investigation.
Mr. McKeon. Great explanation.
And, Ms. Tronstein, could you do the same with Core Plus?
Ms. Tronstein. It tries to teach cooperative learning and application of math to real-life situations.
Mr. McKeon. As Dr. Milgram has stated, when we come up with these new things, and already have a lot of teachers that aren't prepared to teach traditional methods, then throwing another method on them, indicates we are heading down the road for some real problems.
We had this with reading. We came out with a new method to teach reading, and that caused a lot of problems in California. Now it looks like we are doing the same thing with math. Sometimes I think these things happen because a teacher maybe has been teaching math for five years under the traditional method has gotten bored with it.
Maybe they are looking for some new way because they are bored with teaching the same thing for five years. But for each of their students, it is their first time hearing it. I used to sell life insurance. When I was first hired, they gave us a little book and said, ``here is how you sell pension plans.'' I used that flip chart a couple of times, and I got tired. I developed my own way of selling pensions.
Well, I never sold a single pension, but the fellow that led the company year after year after year selling pensions still kept using that simple little flip chart. He may have gotten bored, but he was able to overcome that and use that same method because every client that he came to, it was new to him. He was able to put freshness into it, and he was successful. Not me. You know, I moved on and did other things.
But I am concerned, when we have a lot of teachers that are inadequately prepared, and we have students that are suffering, maybe what we should do is instead of finding a new way to teach math, maybe we should go back and teach the teachers how to teach the traditional ways and encourage them to do that and do it more successfully. Then we don't end up with these children that have suffered through this period where they have been used as experimental guinea pigs.
Some way, I think we need to get back to that, and instead of all of us sitting here, coming up with all new things, we should just give them the resources to train on the old traditional methods that work.
Dr. McGuire? Dr. Milgram, what . . .
Mr. Milgram. It sounds awfully good to me.
Mr. Rutherford. Well, it sounds good if you are sure those methods work. Why is it that when we were doing traditional teaching all the way we were getting such low marks in international grades? Some of these new programs, incidentally, are modeled after our competitors, such as Japan, who used cooperative learned, who used discovery approaches. So . . .
Mr. McKeon. They seem to do it better, if that is . . .
Mr. Rutherford. Well . . .
Mr. McKeon. I am just concerned that I am not so certain that these methods didn't work. I am concerned that maybe the teachers were not taught how to adequately use those methods, and before they were given a chance to do that we moved them into something else.
We had a teacher when we were doing the hearing on our Teacher Empowerment Act that said he was thrown in a classroom of third graders and said, ``teach them how to read.'' He had never been taught how to teach somebody how to read. And if we haven't taught somebody how to teach math but expect them to be able to do it, I just think we probably need to do a better job of preparing our teachers.
I am way over time. Excuse me, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. McKeon. We appreciate all of those insights.
Mr. Roemer is next.
Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It seems we all recognize that we have a major problem, that our students in this great country are not performing well enough in math and science in comparison to other countries, that Congress has acted to extend visas to bring people into this country (which ran out halfway through the year) that the technology companies still have hundreds of thousands of job openings in this country in math and science and computer fields that we need to fill, that we have too many teachers that are not certified in math and science.
But I think we need to look beyond the scope of this hearing and look for answers rather than point at problems. And some of the answers, it seems to me, need to address, how can we recruit the best people to serve on these boards that make recommendations? They don't make mandates to our local school boards and states. They make recommendations that schools can use.
It is the local schools' decision-making authority whether or not to implement the recommendations of these expert panels. So how do we get the best people to serve on these boards? How do we recruit more math and science teachers?
How do we improve our in-service programs and our professional development programs to teach people new ideas in order to challenge children? It seems to me that this is what we should really be looking at and not necessarily blaming a panel that makes recommendations.
Dr. Milgram, have you . . . we appreciate your constructive criticism in this area. Have you ever served on one of these panels or been asked to serve on one of these panels?
Mr. Milgram. Not on the expert panels, no.
Mr. Roemer. Would you serve on one if you were asked?
Mr. Milgram. I would possibly serve on one, but there may be colleagues of mine who would be more qualified to do so.
Mr. Roemer. So you might help Dr. McGuire in recruiting people that would serve.
Mr. Milgram. Sure.
Mr. Roemer. I am sure Dr. McGuire has probably had difficulties finding people to serve on these panels. Is that correct?
Mr. McGuire. It is an ongoing challenge. Absolutely.
Mr. Roemer. And so you have difficulty getting people to serve in these areas who might have the expertise that Dr. Milgram is looking for in order to make some recommendations to states and local school boards on whether or not they ought to adopt some of these practices. Is that correct?
Mr. McGuire. That is true.
Mr. Roemer. How do we get better people to serve?
Mr. McGuire. I mean, it is an ongoing challenge, not so much because people aren't interested in seeing this kind of work happen, it is just that people are really very busy, Mr. Roemer, and they have, as I am sure Dr. Milgram is . . . many responsibilities. And this work takes, as I think Jim mentioned a little earlier, a lot of time to do it well, and people have to be prepared to do it. And so it is really a formal public service . . .
Mr. Roemer. Public service.
Mr. McGuire. . . . to be sure. That is right.
Mr. Roemer. Dr. Sunley, let me ask you a question. I have a bill introduced in Congress to try to make it easier to recruit people in second careers, to come back into teaching, whether they are 40 or 50 years old, who have expertise in math, science, accounting, technology, computers. Perhaps you can give me some more recommendations . . . how do we make this more of a reality?
There are a lot of ways to get this, including second careers. How do we do this in terms of second careers? And how do we do it in terms of recruiting people who might be interested in teaching English, Shakespeare, geometry, into science and math fields?
Ms. Sunley. I think the kind of thing that you are talking about, developing a stronger teaching core with people who have strong backgrounds in math and science, is one of the things that we need to be doing to improve the teacher core. NSF does run some in-service teacher . . . pre-service teacher preparation programs. We also run some in-service teacher professional development programs.
Our pre-service programs, we try to link the math and science departments in the universities with the schools of education, so that there is a mix of good, solid grounding in science with good, solid teaching and learning about how students learn.
I think the kind of thing we would want to do with the people who are making teaching a second career is make sure they get that link between the science and math that they know and understand, and how students learn those subjects, and what kinds of things they can do that will best facilitate that student learning.
Mr. Roemer. I thank you, and thank the Chairman. My time has run out. I certainly would like to explore more of these types of ideas at a future hearing.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Roemer.
We will now go to Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Johnson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am a little disturbed at some of the answers we are hearing . . . especially from the Science Foundation . . . because Buzz Aldrin is a good friend of mine. He and I went through flying school together, and we talk a lot now. He tells me that we cannot get mathematicians, physicists, and scientists to replace those that are retiring in NASA today from our own school systems. We would have to go overseas and get them from schools abroad.
I think that I am going to redirect to Dr. McGuire . . . you know, Dr. Milgram said that at the present time there is no valid research that shows any of the programs of this type are effective. I want you to tell me, one, why you think these programs that you recommend are effective; and, two, how do you recommend them under law?
I thought you had the charter to study, evaluate, and not necessarily pick one system over another.
Mr. McGuire. Well, the first thing I would say is that in my opening remarks I, in fact, asserted that we have a continuing need to do more research, so that we will come to have even more information about how these programs, or I should say the components that make them, work, so that people who are in the business of developing curriculum can draw on an ever-sharper and firmer knowledge base.
At the same time, as the panel went about its work . . . I am in no position to speak as Assistant Secretary to the details of any given program. I want to say that. But the panel did oversee a process that looked for and considered evidence about the effectiveness of these programs where students are concerned. And so . . .
Mr. Johnson. But you recommended one program. You didn't enumerate the value of each program. You recommended one program, I think.
Mr. McGuire. Oh, there is a set of 10 different programs that were a part of this one iteration of the panel's work. And, indeed, you would hope and expect that this is an ongoing process, that over time more programs would be submitted for review, and that the process itself would become ever more sophisticated about how those reviews are conducted.
I don't really view the work, the output of the panels as endorsements of particular curriculum programs. I think . . .
Mr. Johnson. Well, that is the way it is perceived out in the states.
Mr. McGuire. We should work on that perception. Here I think we should understand that what we are trying to do is make . . . this is not easy stuff, to make these judgments. It will always be hard to do in the face of the evidence that is available to us at a point in time.
But you should understand these programs as tools, as guidance, and as . . . and people ought to think about the process that the panel went through to make these judgments and consider for themselves, particularly at the local level, how they might investigate and review and make judgments about curriculum that make sense for their community.
Mr. Johnson. Yes. But when you put federal money out there for teacher training, they are going to take it at the state level, and they are going to do what you suggest. Instead of suggesting a program that you are not sure works, and according to Dr. Milgram hasn't . . . is that true, Dr. Milgram?
Mr. Milgram. What?
Mr. Johnson. Is your statement that there is no research that shows that programs of this type are effective?
Mr. Milgram. That is correct. There are some papers out there from some of the programs that claim to show this, and I keep hoping that one of them actually will withstand serious scrutiny. But so far, each and every paper that we have looked at has shown flaws such as a misinterpretation of the quote that was mentioned much earlier that algebra is the single dominant factor in degree attainment in college.
This was translated over to courses in math are the single most dominant, and then they showed that one of these programs you took more courses. And then they said, ``it is a success, therefore.''
Mr. Johnson. We are out of time, but I think we have kind of hit on it up here. It is teacher training and the way teachers are able to present the subject matter. Maybe you guys ought to investigate that a little more.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Kind. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank each of the witnesses for their testimony today, which it has been very, very interesting. Often times during the discussion and the question and answer session it almost sounds as if we are having a debate about the traditional way of doing things versus new approaches to education.
And I am concerned that often times in the course of debating education reforms, we tend to hold up the past in some type of nostalgic light; if we are not doing it the way things were done before, the way we learned, then it must not be the proper direction to be heading.
I often fear that the greatest obstacle that our kids are facing when in regards to their learning ability are the preconceived notions that we in the older generation have about some very innovative and creative new ideas that are being developed.
But, our kids are learning differently than we did when we grew up. They are processing information differently because they are subjected to a different environment than we were.
One of the questions I want to pose to the panel is, what is happening in the area of online course material, and what can technology can deliver to the classroom today? Because in my district we are having a tough time recruiting quality teachers in rural school districts and inner city areas.
And the online course material that is available could be a part of the key to the deficiency that some of these school districts are running into, based on the course material that is now being developed, in many instances to address the various state standards and assessments that are taking place at the local level.
I think we are looking at a new wave of teaching possibilities that might address some of the shortages we have in filling quality positions, especially in the areas of math and science. Not that it is going to replace the necessity of having good teachers in the classroom, but rather in transforming the role that teachers are now playing, where they could almost be regarded as doctors in the classroom, diagnosing students and their progress and then prescribing remedial action that needs to be taken with kids that might be falling behind.
It seems very exciting. We are just scratching the surface with these possibilities today. I would be interested to hear any comments that anyone on the panel might have in this area.
Ms. Sunley. I think this is another area in which both NSF and the Department of Education have been involved at somewhat different levels. NSF has really focused on research and have set up some centers of excellence for research and learning technologies that are, we believe, making a real difference in our understanding of how learning technologies can be used effectively, both by classroom teachers and by students in the classroom.
One other thing that we are in process of developing is a digital library for science, math, engineering, and technology education. We believe, again, that this can have long-term significant impact on particularly rural and isolated regions, but also on urban cities in terms of bringing new kinds of ideas to the classroom.
Mr. Kind. Dr. Rutherford?
Mr. Rutherford. Yes, I would like to respond. I think it is absolutely necessary for us to explore these possibilities. The shortage of teachers is going to get worse. The next 10 years is not very promising in that regard. So if we have had trouble bringing people into the profession already, and now have to have a greater shortage, it is time to look at the whole system and how we present material and how we use people and time and technologies and material.
And up to now, the technology part has been rather plodding. A lot of it is the lowest quality stuff . . . fun but not useful. But that doesn't mean that we haven't the ingenuity as a nation to begin to create things, and then build a quality control so that when someone claims they have had an online course in physics that, in fact, you have some way of finding out if those students, in fact, learned the fundamental physics that they are supposed to be doing. But we really have to move aggressively, I think, in that direction.
Mr. Kind. Mr. Milgram, before my time expires, for the purposes of direction on this committee, could you weigh the challenge that we are facing? Do you see a greater challenge in the area of the content, the curriculum, that our students are being exposed to, or in the area of quality teaching?
Mr. Milgram. Well, I mean, both are absolutely critical, of course. But right now the biggest problem we have is with the content. You know, we have to set things up. In the end, we have to have a stable system, and a stable system means we have to have teacher core. But for now, we are losing students right and left. We have to have content for now.
Mr. Kind. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Kind.
I notice some of you looking up as you hear a whistling noise here. That is the ghosts of students who feel they have been deprived of a proper math education.
I am just kidding. Don't get excited. I think it is an opening window here that we have from time to time.
We now shall turn to Mr. Ehlers.
Mr. Ehlers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was going to comment that I thought it was the ghost of teachers past listening to this.
First, a quick question to Mr. Rutherford. The panel that advised on this, is it the same panel or the same sort of panel that recently previewed middle school science texts and said that they did not find any of them acceptable?
Mr. Rutherford. No, sir. The panel you refer to was done under the aegis of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Mr. Ehlers. So it had no connection with this at all?
Mr. Rutherford. No, connection with this panel.
Mr. Ehlers. Okay. Perhaps it would be best if this panel had done the same thing, but we will let this rest.
I just want to back off a bit. It seems to me we are talking about angels dancing on heads of pins to a certain extent. Let us just point out some practical problems first. My background is 22 years of teaching physics at the college and university level. During that time I was developing a special course for future elementary school teachers and then through that getting involved in the schools and teaching in the schools.
I would just like to point out some of the practical problems that I have encountered that I think have to be addressed before we get into some of the esoteric that we have been dealing with here.
The first problem concerns the transient population we have in this country. I recall one teacher telling me that in her school the average number of transfers was such that each student went to four different schools in the course of a year since the parents in that little district moved around a lot.
We know how transient our nation is, and yet we continue to subject our students to the fact that they may in a school which one-year teaches fractions or percentages in the fourth grade. This student leaves after the third grade and goes to another school where they taught those subjects in the third grade. That student never learns theses skills.
I think if we are looking for ways that we can try and improve things on a national level, we should certainly try to reach some national agreement on scope, content, and sequence in mathematics instructions nationwide. That is true.
You may wonder why small countries such as the Netherlands beat us so badly in the TIMSS evaluation. I think it is simply for that reason. They are small countries. They have a standardized program. Everyone follows the same sequence, and they do well.
Another problem is when we introduce a new curriculum, I don't care which one it is, into a school, I find in my experience the biggest problem is lack of proper teacher training. Teachers, by and large, are not comfortable with math and science to begin with, and then you throw in a brand-new program and you don't give them the proper training, the result is disastrous.
I find the teachers are the ones who are most upset about this, not just the parents. You are putting them in an impossible situation if you don't provide proper background and training.
Another practical problem is we grant 100,000 H1B visas in the Congress every year to get enough qualified people in the United States to do the technical jobs that are available. Our grad schools in over 50 percent in the sciences, the students are from other nations. I don't know what it is for math, but I know it is high.
Clearly, we have problems. We are not doing things right. Now, this may be an attempt to do things better. But if what you are saying is correct, we are failing once again by not dealing with some of the very simple practical problems that we should deal with.
I am very strongly of the opinion that reading, math, and science should be taught well and should be taught early. In addition, they should be taught in a way that makes sense because they all interact with each other. Talking about major themes of literature in first grade doesn't work. You need some basic understanding of the material to do it. But if it is taught properly, you can develop an intellectual capability, so when students are in high school and college, they have a wonderful appreciation of literature.
That is true also of mathematics and of science. It is often taught as disconnected little pieces, especially in mathematics. I deplore the things I see in the textbooks. It is all teaching about science, but there is nothing that is involving science. And there is a basic difference there.
I think we are running into some of the problem here. We are trying to introduce the advanced concepts of math early on, which is fine, but the students still have to get the basic background to understand what those concepts mean. And with this whole argument of using calculators versus teaching someone how to calculate with a pencil and paper, or the fancy language of manual computation of algorithms, the point is simply they have to understand what it means to add, to subtract, to multiply, divide. It doesn't matter whether they use a calculator or something else.
Memorizing the multiplication tables cast against some program that doesn't have that misses the whole point. It is just simply a convenience to know those for the rest of your life. It doesn't mean it is a good program or a bad program. It is a convenience, and some of these very basic things I find getting lost all the time.
I decided to use my time for a little sermonizing rather than asking questions.
But I am just trying to shed a little light on this to everyone. And I hope that we, as a country, can get our act together here and reach some national agreements on what we really are trying to do and how we can do it. We need to make an effort to develop programs that follow that and not simply let California, Texas, and Florida dictate which textbooks we all have. Finally, we need to train our teachers properly, so that we can implement these programs and do the best job possible.
End of sermon. Thank you very much.
Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Ehlers. Well-received sermon.
Mr. Holt, on my right, would like to ask a couple of questions. Mr. Petri, if he has time, would like to ask a couple of questions. Mr. McIntosh might wish to ask a couple of questions.
We are in the middle of a vote. We have 10 minutes left. What we would like to do is to finish before we leave for the vote because that would mean you would have to wait for half an hour. We need brief answers, and hopefully the members can help as well.
Mr. Holt? Sorry.
Mr. Holt. I will limit this to a couple of brief questions because Mr. Ehlers and I see eye to eye on much of this. I would like to engage in a much longer conversation with him and with you about this. I sit on the Glenn Commission, the National Commission on the Teaching of Mathematics and Science.
Recognizing that even the traditional methods haven't worked so well, how do we get the interest of students and teachers?
I recognize that past methods of teaching math haven't worked so well--would say even in my case, and I went on to a number of advanced degrees in physics and have taught, as Mr. Ehlers has, at the college and university level.
As I look at the programs that have been criticized think there are some wonderful things that I would have benefited from if they had been taught. And I think citizens today, not just future scientists and mathematicians, would benefit from learning scheduling of large projects, exponential growth, simulating chance situations, expected values, probabilities, and so forth.
And I am sure all of us here in Congress would benefit from learning reasoning under uncertainty and developing . . .
. . . quantitative reasoning with large numbers.
The question that I have for Dr. Rutherford and Dr. Sunley and Dr. Milgram, is how, in fact, do we help teachers better than by presenting examples of best practice? And if we want to do that, how can we do it better than by having panels selecting examples of best practice, recognizing that there will always be some dissention among professionals in these fields about which programs are truly the best?
Mr. Castle. Brevity, please.
Mr. Rutherford. There is no easy way. Panels are needed too, I think . . . they can be government or not . . . to define new practices, see what they are like, raise new possibilities. The business about teacher education is absolutely essential. We learned in the '60s that if you wanted to introduce new programs you needed to do serious preparation.
In those days, NSF ran six-, seven-, and eight-week summer training and academic-year training. And if you ask teachers today who are still in the game what is their favorite science and math teachers, their favorite all-time program, it was that preparation for where they learned new ideas and how to handle new kind of content. You have to do all of these.
Mr. Castle. Dr. Sunley, briefly, please.
Ms. Sunley. Yes. I think one of the things that has been left out of this discussion is the level of field testing that each of these curricula went through before they became commercially available. And one of the purposes of NSF's programs in teacher enhancement and, in particular, in the systemic initiatives is in part to say you shouldn't be undertaking radical education reform without making sure that the teacher professional development that goes along with it is there behind it.
And so some of the things that one can argue about, whether the programs are tried or untried when they are moved into systems, but all of them have gone through some level of field testing and some level of acceptability by the school districts before they are implemented in the school districts.
Mr. Castle. Thank you.
Mr. Holt. Thank you. I should give Mr. Petri a moment. I will yield my time.
Mr. Castle. Thank you very much, Mr. Holt. Actually, Mr. McIntosh is the final person.
Mr. McIntosh. Thank you much, Mr. Chairman. I will be quick and brief on these questions.
Professor Milgram, I assume you are familiar with the Saxon math program which is used in many of our districts in Indiana. Is that one of the best or . . .
Mr. Milgram. Well, what is it called?
Mr. McIntosh. They just call it the Saxon math . . .
Mr. Milgram. Oh, Saxon. Okay, yes.
Mr. McIntosh. Is that a good program?
Mr. Milgram. It is said to be. I am not familiar with it. It is . . . the people in Los Angeles are trying very hard to adopt it in Los Angeles right now. People who I know and trust think it is a solid program. I think that there are some programs that I have seen that are different programs but that work very well as well.
Mr. McIntosh. Well, let me share with you that it is a back to basics curriculum, and it has been adopted by about half of the schools in Indiana because of a high success rate. In fact, in one school in Indianapolis the failure rates on our math tests have been quite high. I mean, as high as 70, 75 percent in the Indianapolis school system, went down to just 10 percent.
So my question to you, Dr. McGuire, is has the Education Department been aware of that program, and why wasn't that considered as one of the things that they would be pushing for the schools to adopt?
Mr. McGuire. One thing you have to understand about the way our process works is that we don't get to review it unless it is submitted to us for review. And so I have no doubt but that there might be any number of very good programs out there . . .
Mr. McIntosh. Because of the time shortage, let me ask two questions. Does that mean that Saxon math wasn't submitted?
Mr. McGuire. I can't speak to what was submitted, but not recognized.
Mr. McIntosh. Is your answer that, no, we didn't select it because it wasn't submitted, or, no, it wasn't selected because we didn't like it?
Ms. Rosen. No. The agreement was made when they asked for voluntary submissions that those who were not selected would not be made publicly . . . those names would not be made publicly available.
Mr. McIntosh. Okay. Dr. McGuire I find your answer somewhat duplicitous. You were telling me in this answer why you didn't select it. ``Well, we can't consider them all if they don't submit them.'' If you don't want to release then that, tell me substantively why wasn't it selected?
Mr. McGuire. It is in the law that we operate the panel that way. This is a very interesting . . .
Mr. McIntosh. I don't want to go into your processes right now, although, frankly, I think it is nuts. I think you ought to go out and find good ones as well.
But, second, why wasn't that one that is any good?
Mr. McGuire. I am not in the position to make a judgment about whether that program was good or not, Mr. McIntosh. It wasn't a part of our . . . it wasn't submitted for review. We weren't in a position to pass judgment on it.
Mr. McIntosh. We will follow up on that. I appreciate that.
And thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Castle. I apologize to both Mr. Holt, who is now getting ready to leave, and Mr. McIntosh, for having to shorten their time a little bit.
And I apologize to all of you. This is sort of like a good book or a good movie; you want it to go on. I would almost like to have this panel back. I didn't get to ask all of my questions either, but you did help us a lot with this subject. It is not easy. I think it does raise some questions that do need some further answering, but we want to thank you for being here. A lot of you have come a long way to be here, and we appreciate all of you.
If there is no further business before the committee, we stand adjourned.
See Appendix L For The Written Statement Of David M. McIntosh, Representative from Indiana.
See Appendix M For Additional Materials Submitted for the record.
[Whereupon, at 12:27 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]