Facing Facts in U.S. Science and Mathematics Education: Where We Stand, Where We Want to Go
Curtis C. McKnight
William H. Schmidt
Cite this article as:
McKnight, C.C. & Schmidt, W.H. Journal of Science Education and Technology (1998) 7: 57. doi:10.1023/A:1022536200005
The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) provides data that seems clearly important to science and mathematics education in the U.S. TIMSS gathered extensive data on curriculum, textbooks, teachers, and instructional practices in science and mathematics education and some of these data are presented and discussed. Eighth grade achievement data show the U.S. to be somewhat above average in science achievement but consistently average or below in mathematics. U.S. official curricula cover comparatively many topics and are relatively unfocused. U.S. science and mathematics textbooks typically take a cautious, inclusive approach keeping traditional content while adding new reform topics. They thus lack. Teachers, without guidance to help them focus, typically divide their attention among many topics. Empirically, there is little agreement in the U.S. on what is truly “basic” judging by common topics among curricula and textbooks. U.S. teaching, at least in mathematics, is teacher and moves among many different activities, failing to tell a coherent story. We must face these as we seek to find ways to become what we want to be in providing science and mathematics education.