Lawmakers back more high school math choices

By Stephanie Fryer
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers approved a proposal today that would increase the range of courses that count toward meeting high school math requirements.
High school students could count vocational courses, such as drafting or wood shop, as math credits under Senate Bill 3244, which requires a detailed math curriculum in Illinois.
"Math is not just a college need. Math is required for manufacturing careers … agriculture careers," said Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who spoke in favor of the bill during a House committee hearing.
Simon said her support for the bill stems from her statewide tour of community colleges.
"It came up at every single community college — that far too many students are not ready for college-level math," she said.
The new legislation requires the Illinois State Board of Education to provide educators with specific skills, content and samples of lessons to teach students.
Current curriculum has been criticized for being too broad. It states that to graduate, students need three years of math, of which two courses must be algebra and geometry. The curriculum allows teachers and school administrators to decide what to teach and how to teach it.
School districts have the option of using all or portions of the new curriculum.
"It allows schools to take the best of the curriculum the state promotes and maybe add in their own twist," Simon said. "If a school has a particular geographic location with careers, they might adapt it in a different way that fits their school district."
The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee approved the measure in a 20-0 vote. It now heads to the House for a full chamber vote.
The Senate passed the bill in March.



"Making a Better Science Teacher"

The August 2012 'Scientific American' has an excellent article about what it takes to make a good science teacher [article emphaisis on mathematics]----as judged by the students scores, interest in the sujbect, exciting students about the subject, desire to continue in the sciences, etc.. 
The most important thing is having the teacher with at least a bacholors degree in their subject----e.g. a degree in mathematics not mathematics for education---this is also found in nations that score higher than the U.S..  Even a masters in education does not correlate highly with being a good math teacher---in fact a very low correlation.  Shorter term training in education like Teach for America prove sufficient if the teacher has has a degree---and of course---interest in the field.