Athens, Ga. – For the first time in the nation’s history, many of its top education researchers including University of Georgia Regents Professor Jeremy Kilpatrick, will present a series of reports giving evidence-based advice on major education policy issues to the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress.
Their message is simple: Let’s learn from what we have done, design it better and move forward more carefully.
Kilpatrick, a professor of mathematics education, will be among about a dozen scholars speaking about the nation’s future education policy on Tuesday, Nov. 18 in a public forum at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
For the past several months, Kilpatrick has co-chaired a committee on mathematics and science education for the National Academy of Education’s Education Policy White Papers Project, an initiative designed to help policymakers in the new administration and Congress better understand key education issues and to help them create effective policies by providing them with independent, research-based information.
He and co-chair, Helen Quinn, a renowned professor of physics at Stanford University, say that both mathematics and science learning are much more complicated than they are portrayed in the current curriculum or testing.
“Two reports from the National Academy of Science, Adding It Up (2001) and Taking Science to School (2006) portrayed mathematics and science learning as more than just teaching skill or concept… that it’s about a broader picture of what it means to be proficient in mathematics or science,” Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick was chair of the National Research Council committee that wrote, Adding It Up, which recommended a major overhaul of mathematics instruction, curricula and assessment in the nation’s schools.
The nation still needs to develop coherent instructional systems that have a focused framework and curriculum, teachers who know their subjects, assessments that are thorough and aligned with the curriculum, and an effective program of teacher preparation, he said.
“Those four components should be working together and in the current system they’re not,” Kilpatrick said. “But there’s no support for a national curriculum. So we recommend that the federal government, working with consortia of states, should invest in the creation of model instructional packages that address these elements to help schools develop their capacity to teach 21st-century mathematics and science skills from kindergarten through grade eight.”
Kilpatrick cited Kyle Schultz, a third-year UGA doctoral student in mathematics education, for much of the work tracking down research studies to support his arguments. Schultz, who received funding from the National Academy of Education to assist Kilpatrick on the project, will also attend the public forum Tuesday.
Each of the white papers reviews the available research evidence and presents possible policy options or recommendations. The papers are being subjected to a rigorous peer review process before being released in January 2009. In addition to mathematics and science education, the white papers address five other key areas in education:
- teacher quality;
- standards and assessments;
- time for learning;
- reading and literacy education; and
- equity and excellence in American education.
For more information of the National Academy of Education’s Education Policy White Papers Project and the public forum see www.naeducation.org/