Dr. Stat

Dr. Stat is a Statistics Professor. This blog is his opportunity to share ideas and opinions about education (especially math education), politics, and whatever else comes up.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The National Math Panel

Education Week, 19 May 2006 (p. 08)
“Some Worry About Potential Bias on the National Math Panel”

President Bush has named only one K-12 teacher to his National Mathematics Advisory Panel, a group charged with exploring math teaching and learning. The lack of teacher representation on the panel has some observers questioning the group’s makeup and its objectivity.

Not me! It's great to finally see the experts on Mathematics being consulted on learning and teaching mathematics. We let that amateurs do it much too long.

The panel is weighted with experts on teaching mathematics at the college level, and does not represent “a balanced view of mathematics,” said Steven Leinwand, a principal research analyst at the American Institutes for Research. Some are concerned that the panel is biased toward one particular method of teaching math, the traditional approach that focuses on drills and computation.

In other words, experts who actually want our students to learn math instead of coming to college needing to learn fractions and decimals.

Even Vern Williams, the one K-12 math teacher on the panel, has a Web site on which he criticizes the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics for promoting what he calls “fuzzy” math standards.

Another panelist, Wilfried Schmid, a Harvard University mathematics professor, has also been a frequent critic of NCTM. However, Schmid says the two sides in the so-called “math wars” have begun working more cooperatively, and are finding common ground.

Tom Loveless, a senior scholar at the Brookings Institution who was selected for the panel, dismissed suggestions that the panel has an agenda.

“It’s an opportunity to cut through a lot of the noise surrounding math,” Loveless said.

We can hope!