Professor takes part in mathematics report presented to President

March 25, 2008

The President’s National Mathematics Advisory Panel delivered on March 13 its special report on mathematics education to President Bush. McDaniel Education Professor Francis (Skip) Fennell, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, is a panel member.

The panel, created in 2006 by an executive order of President Bush, was charged to examine and summarize the scientific evidence related to teaching and learning mathematics, with a specific focus on preparation for and success in learning algebra. The report found that students who successfully complete algebra are better prepared for college and have greater opportunities after high school graduation.

The report addresses actions needed to provide a strong mathematics education for all students, as a first step in preparing America’s students not only to excel in mathematics but become leaders in the fields of science, engineering, and research. The panel recommended streamlining the mathematics curriculum for pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, in order to emphasize foundational topics and establish learning benchmarks for these topics. Fennell noted that the panel’s work also underscored the important relationship between conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and problem solving in learning mathematics.

It also highlighted the need to prepare and retain qualified and effective classroom teachers, support research in instruction, learning, teacher effectiveness and assessment.

Fennell also noted the “critical importance of the mathematical content background for teachers at every level. Teachers must know, and know very well, the mathematics for which they are responsible in the classroom.” He also noted the critical importance of a child’s first teachers – parents.

“Parents are responsible for instilling the value and importance of learning mathematics. This subject is not for nerds only. It’s for all students all the time.”

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving mathematics education in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, would urge the administration to provide funding to put the Panel’s recommendations into action.