Improving Math Education

Published April 1, 1998

Responding to the recently released Third International Mathematics and Science Study, U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley called for six steps to improve math education:

  • Have more students study algebra and geometry by eighth and ninth grade;
  • Raise state and local standards in mathematics and science;
  • Measure student performance against rigorous standards;
  • Offer a challenging curriculum and encourage students to take demanding mathematics and science courses;
  • Improve the training of mathematics and science teachers and reduce the number of out-of-field teachers;
  • Destroy the myth that advanced mathematics and science courses are for only a few students.

As U.S. TIMSS national research coordinator William H. Schmidt noted, if U.S. science and mathematics curricula are “a mile wide and an inch deep,” “we can hardly be surprised to find the achievement gains in all of these topics only an ‘inch deep’ as well.”