Mathematical Proficiency for All Students: Toward a Strategic Research and Development Program in Mathematics Education
Jan 1, 2003
Improving proficiency in mathematics and eliminating the gaps in proficiency among social groups is and has been the goal of many public and private efforts over the past decade and a half. However, these efforts have been supported by a limited and uneven base of research and research-based development, which is part of the reason for the limited success of these efforts. The Office of Education Research and Improvement (OERI, now the Institute of Education Sciences) of the U. S. Department of Education charged the RAND Mathematics Study Panel with developing a research agenda to address the most pressing issues in mathematical proficiency. This was part of a larger RAND effort to suggest ways that education research and development could be made more rigorous, cumulative, and usable. The Panel’s report proposes a long-term, strategic program of research and development in mathematics education. In the short term, the program is designed to produce knowledge that would support efforts to improve the quality of mathematics teaching and learning with the teachers and materials that are now in place or that will become available over the next several years. The Panel selected three domains in which both proficiency and equity in proficiency present substantial challenges, and where past work would afford resources for some immediate progress: developing teachers’ mathematical knowledge in ways that are directly useful for teaching; teaching and learning skills used in mathematical thinking and problem solving; and teaching and learning of algebra from kindergarten through the 12th grade (K-12). More important, over 10 to 15 years, the program would build a solid base of knowledge for the design and development of effective instructional practice. That instructional practice, in turn, would enable the dual goals of increased levels of proficiency and equity in attaining proficiency to be achieved.