Results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study Repeat (TIMSSR), announced by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on December 5, 2000, confirmed previous evidence that the U.S. needs to strengthen efforts in math and science education, particularly in middle school, according to officials of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The original TIMSS indicated that the relative standing of U.S students slipped between the 4th and 8th grade. The NSF director, Rita Colwell claimed, “In these technological times, general scientific and mathematical literacy is crucial to the entire workforce and has implications for our economy into the future”.
Student performance in mathematics and science, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), has improved somewhat, but not consistently. Despite the improved performance overall, achievement gaps between various racial/ethnic subgroups persist and have shown no signs of narrowing since 1990.
In our global society, a more diverse student population throughout the United States faces an ongoing demand requiring raised achievement and test scores. The problems require a diverse approach to teaching, learning, and addressing needs of the urban youth. In addition, technology and the Internet have opened vast possibilities for learning.
Research describes serious problems in the workforce of teachers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology, according to the National Science Foundation report. “In grades 7-12, approximately 33 percent of mathematics teachers and 20 percent of science teachers have neither a major nor minor in their teaching field” (www.nsf.gov/pubs/2001/pr0180/pr0180.txt, 10/01). These problems are confounded by pending retirements of university faculty who prepare teachers.