NSTA Legislative Update
April 24 2006

President Establishes National Math Panel

House Science Committee Hearing Focuses on Multitude of K-12 STEM Programs Across Federal Agencies

President Establishes National Math Panel

On April 18, President Bush signed an executive order establishing the National Math Panel, part of his American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI).

According to the White House, the National Math Panel will bring together experts in mathematics, cognitive science, and education to evaluate and determine the most effective ways of teaching math and disseminate that knowledge to schools and teachers nationwide. By January 31, 2007, the panel will submit an interim report to the president that details its preliminary assessments of best practices for teaching math. The report will address these issues:

The National Math Panel will work to identify best practices, then translate these research findings into practical solutions for teachers. Patterned after the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act's Reading First Initiative, the National Math Panel, and two subsequent initiatives, Math Now for Elementary School Students and Math Now for Middle School Students, will acquaint teachers with proven math teaching tools and techniques.

Math Now for Elementary School Students will promote research-based practices to ensure children receive a good foundation in math skills early on. Math Now for Middle School Students will target students struggling with math, enabling teachers to intervene before students fall behind. The Administration is requesting $250 million for Math Now programs for FY2007.

As reported in previous NSTA Legislative Updates, the Administration is seeking $380 million in federal support to improve K–12 math, science, and technological education as part of the API. Besides the Math Now programs, the ACI includes an Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB) Program which would provide training to create 70,000 more AP/IB teachers; and an Adjunct Teacher Corps of mid level professionals who would teach part time at the high school level.

The Administration is gearing up to provide Academic Competitiveness Grants later this summer for students who have completed a rigorous high-school curriculum and SMART Grants for college juniors and seniors studying math, science, or critical-need foreign languages. For more information on these programs, visit http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN0604.html.

House Science Committee Hears From Federal Agency Leaders About K-12 STEM Education Programs

Late last month leaders from six federal agencies—the Department of Education, NASA, NSF, NIST, NOAA, and Department of Energy—were called to testify before the House Science Committee on ways their federal agencies can improve their efforts to strengthen K-12 science and math education.

Witnesses at the hearing included Margaret Spellings, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Arden L. Bement, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF); Shana Dale, Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Brigadier General John J. Kelly (ret.), Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and James Decker, Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

During testimony members of Congress heard from these federal agencies leaders about the variety of K-12 programs their agencies provided, how these programs were coordinated across agencies, how the programs are (or are not) complementary, and what evaluation tools they use to determine the effectiveness of their programs.

The Science Committee hearing was called in response to last year’s Government Accounting Office (GAO) report that found in fiscal year 2004 (FY04), 13 federal agencies spent a total of $2.8 billion for 207 programs that were designed to increase the number of students and graduates or to improve educational programs in STEM fields.
Of the 207 programs, 103 had not been evaluated, including 17 programs that had been operating for more than 15 years; 94 of the programs identified were funded at less than $1 million, and 51 were funded between $1 to 5 million.

Six federal agencies spent the bulk (about $2.6 billion) of the reported funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The largest amount of funding was at the National Institutes of Health, followed by NSF, NASA, ED, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Health Resources and Services Administration (within the Department of Health and Human Services). The remaining agencies spent a combined total of $154 million.

The hearing comes at the same time when Secretary Spellings is leading a panel of high level administration officials who will be evaluating the effectiveness of the 207 federal programs in question, then working to streamline and eliminate duplicative programs.

The panel—known as the Academic Competitiveness Council—will make recommendations to streamline and eliminate federal STEM programs, with a special eye toward how these programs can align with No Child Left Behind. (For more information on the ACC, Education Week subscribers can read the April 12 article titled "Spellings Leads Review of Math, Science Ed Programs" at http://www.edweek.com).

During the Science Committee hearing, several members of Congress questioned Spellings about why the NSF was not included in any of the Administration’s plans for ACI, and the continued lack of funding for the NSF education programs.

For more information on the National Math Panel, the ACC or the recent House Science Committee hearing, contact Jodi Peterson at jpeterson@nsta.org.

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