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IERI and Mathematics Education

Recent test scores show that the United States ranks 24th out of 29 countries in the math and problem-solving skills of its 15-year-old students. Five of the countries with higher mathematical literacy scores in 2003 tested lower than the U.S. just three years earlier. The Interagency Education Research Initiative is helping to reverse this disturbing trend by funding 30 projects that focus on math learning outcomes. This represents 30% of the projects funded to date by this joint effort of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), and the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD).

Of these 35 math-related projects, 27% aim to improve teaching skills, 33% change the way math is taught, and another 20% do both. Assessing students’ knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry is the focus of 13% of projects. Critical areas addressed by these projects include giving preschoolers a head start; teaching higher math skills to more students; and using multimedia to improve instruction, provide professional development, and create learning communities. Several projects also look at ways of closing the achievement gap in math skills between whites and students from poor urban or rural school districts.

Nearly two-thirds of these IERI-funded math projects are classified as “scaling” projects. Such projects attempt to determine the effectiveness of interventions beyond the initial “laboratory” or classroom settings. Going to scale for some projects means delivering proven interventions to underserved children, while other projects are looking to build educational capacity by incorporating instructional technologies that promote the spread and sustainability of an intervention.

More information about the IERI projects that focus on math learning outcomes can be found by clicking on the project titles below:

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