I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.
A new committee of experts will look for the best ways to improve math
education in the United States.
The effort is part of the American Competitiveness Initiative that President
Bush discussed in his State of the Union message in January. The program calls
for spending more than two hundred million dollars to improve the teaching of
The Education Department says the experts will examine how
to prepare for, and succeed in, learning algebra. One goal is to decide about
teaching higher-level math at younger ages. American fifteen-year-olds performed
below the average in math on the most recent Program for International
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says: "To keep America competitive in
the twenty-first century, we must improve the way we teach math."
But there is disagreement about which teaching methods are the most
effective. Traditional ones depend heavily on memory and tests. Newer methods
are based more on developing creative problem-solving skills.
Supporters of the traditional way say it may not be exciting but students get
the right answers. Critics say many students never understand why the answers
Some say the best way to teach math is to combine the new and traditional
methods. The debate is similar to the one over the best way to teach reading.
The National Mathematics Advisory Panel will be led by Larry Faulkner, a
former president of the University of Texas at Austin. The seventeen experts
also include the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
A study has found that less than half of American high school graduates are
prepared for college math. Other studies suggest that strong math skills
developed in the early teen years can lead to college success.
The experts will consider scientifically based research and then advise the
president and the education secretary. Margaret Spellings says all high school
graduates need solid math skills. And she says the nation must give more high
school students the chance to take advanced math and science courses.
The new advisory committee gives its first report in January. A final report
is expected by February of two thousand eight.
This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach.
Read and listen to our reports at voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Steve Ember.