NSF & Congress
Summary: Math and Science Teachers Testify before House Committee
March 20, 2002
Award-winning teachers tell Members of Congress
effective teaching requires the recruitment of more
math and science majors into teaching, continued content-based
professional development, and increased support for
mentoring programs crucial to teacher retention in
the first five years.
The House Committee on Science held this hearing to
honor winners of the National Science Foundation's
prestigious 2001 Presidential Awards for Excellence
in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Witnesses
provided the elementary, secondary, as well as rural
education perspective on the challenges and rewards
of teaching math and science. Chairman
Boehlert commended the teachers for their awards
and asked how the federal government could help them
do their jobs better.
Susan Kelb, a teacher at Tappan Middle School in Ann
Arbor, Michigan said one step the federal government
could take to improve teaching is to do away with
standardized testing, as it does not test for reasoning
and problem solving. She further stated that grants
should be given to top math and science students to
serve as teachers, and then support them in the pursuit
of teaching certificates. Federal money is also useful
for professional development, she said, stating that
NSF should pick up where the Eisenhower grants left
Jana Darece Rowland, a teacher at Hydro-Eakly Elementary
School in Hydro, Oklahoma, a rural elementary school,
said we must build a strong foundation in math and
science at the elementary level, and that the transient
nature of our society and lack of funds is a problem.
She noted that in other countries, like Japan, teachers
are treated as professionals, whereas here they are
not. She said NSF programs such as PAEMST are important
because they encourage teachers to strive for excellence.
She stated that one thing the federal government can
do is to fund regional science resources centers,
as teachers in rural areas struggle to find the resources
Bill Schrandt, a teacher at Valley High School in Albuquerque,
New Mexico credited various NSF grants for his teaching
success. Mr. Schrandt outlined improvements needed
for and barriers that exist to effective teaching.
He called for rigorous promotion of education and
the role of teachers; the need to expand professional
development opportunities with programs such as those
offered by NSF; and the need to attract, prepare,
and retain quality teachers.
Frances Scelsi Hess, a teacher at Cooperstown High
School, Cooperstown, New York, testified that "Effective
teachers need to expand their experiences beyond the
classroom, provide leadership in curriculum and policy
development, serve as a model for students, and support
and mentor colleagues." She said the federal government
could effectively improve science education by funding
professional growth, development of science curricula,
and the purchase of laboratory and technological equipment
for science classrooms. She said competitive grant
programs, such as the NSF programs from which she
benefited, need to be expanded.
In answering questions from Science Committee Members,
witnesses reiterated the need for mentoring programs
beyond the first year of teaching, and the continued
need for teacher professional development and the
importance of NSF programs in this endeavor.
compelete written testimony is available on the
House Science Committee website.