Student Learning in Mathematics and Science

Eligibility for National School Lunch Program: Students' eligibility for this program, which provides free or reduced-price lunches, is a commonly used indicator for family poverty. Eligibility information is part of the administrative data kept by schools and is based on parent-reported family income and family size.

Longitudinal studies: Researchers follow the same group of students over a period of years, such as from kindergarten through fifth grade. These studies can show achievement gains in a particular subject from grade to grade.

Repeating cross-sectional studies: This type of research focuses on how a specific group of students performs in a particular year, then looks at the performance of a similar group of students at a later point in time. An example would be comparing fourth graders in 1990 to fourth graders in 2005.

Scale score: Scale scores place students on a continuous achievement scale based on their overall performance on the assessment. Each assessment program develops its own scales. For example, NAEP used a scale of 0–500 for the mathematics assessment and a scale of 0–300 for the science assessment, and the ECLS mathematics scale ranged from 0 to 153.

Standards and Student Coursetaking

Advanced Placement: Courses that teach college-level material and skills to high school students who can earn college credits by demonstrating advanced proficiency on a final course exam. The curricula and exams for AP courses, available for a wide range of academic subjects, are developed by the College Board.

Core subjects: Fundamental academic subjects that students spend the most time on and are the focus of coursetaking requirements and achievement tests: mathematics, science, English/language arts, and social studies. Computer science and foreign language are sometimes included in the category.

International Baccalaureate: An internationally recognized pre-university academic subject course designed for high school students.

Poverty rate: A school's poverty rate is defined as the percentage of students eligible for subsidized lunches through the National School Lunch Program. It is considered a less accurate measure of family poverty at higher grade levels.

Mathematics and Science Teacher Quality

High schools: Schools that have at least one grade higher than 8 and no grade in K–6.

In-field and out-of-field teachers: This report defines in-field teachers as those who had either a college major or full certification (i.e., regular, advanced, or probationary certification) in their main teaching assignment field or both and out-of-field teachers as those who had neither a college major nor full certification in their main teaching assignment field, a related field, or general education.

Main teaching assignment field: The field in which teachers teach the most classes in school.

Major: A field of study in which an individual has taken substantial academic coursework at the postsecondary level, implying that the individual has substantial knowledge of the academic discipline or subject area.

Middle schools: Schools that have any of grades 5–8, and no grade lower than 5 and no grade higher than 8.

Practice teaching: Programs designed to offer prospective teachers hands-on classroom practice. Practice teaching is often a requirement for completing an educational degree or state certification, or both.

Secondary schools: Schools that have any of grades 7–12 and no grade in K–6.

Teaching certification: A license or certificate awarded to teachers by the state to teach in a public school. The SASS surveys include five types of certification: 1) regular or standard state certification or advanced professional certificate; 2) probationary certificate issued to persons who satisfy all requirements except the completion of a probationary period; 3) provisional certificate issued to persons who are still participating in what the state calls an "alternative certification program;" 4) temporary certificate issued to persons who need some additional college coursework, student teaching, and/or passage of a test before regular certification can be obtained; and 5) emergency certificate issued to persons with insufficient teacher preparation who must complete a regular certification program in order to continue teaching.

Professional Development of Mathematics and Science Teachers

Professional development: In-service training activities designed to help teachers improve their subject-matter knowledge, acquire new teaching skills, and stay informed about changing policies and practices.

Teacher induction: Programs designed at the school, local, or state level for beginning teachers in their first few years of teaching. The purpose of the programs is to help new teachers improve professional practice, deepen their understanding of teaching, and prevent early attrition. One key component of such programs is that new teachers are paired with mentors or other experienced teachers to receive advice, instruction, and support.

Teacher Salaries, Working Conditions, and Job Satisfaction

Teacher attrition: Teachers leaving the teaching profession for another occupation.

Teaching vacancy: Open teaching positions needing to be filled.

Transition to Higher Education

Postsecondary education: The provision of formal instructional programs with a curriculum designed primarily for students who have completed the requirements for a high school diploma or its equivalent. This includes programs with an academic, vocational, and continuing professional education purpose, and excludes vocational and adult basic education programs.

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