Bookmark and Share

Math & Science Teaching in the New Millennium

Glenn Commission


Improving the quality of mathematics and science education in America will require:

  • programs and resources for teacher’s professional development
  • an increase in the number of math and science teachers
  • upgrading the teaching environment
  • government working with non-governmental agencies

September 2000

Good learning comes from good teaching.

Good teaching is key to improved student achievement. Photo: Microsoft Images.

Note: Because some of the information in this article may be outdated, it has been archived.

The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century released a comprehensive plan to ensure that every American student receives excellent instruction in math and science — instruction critical to maintaining the U.S. edge in the competitive global economy. The report emphasizes that good teaching is key to improved student achievement. The Commission recommended programs that specifically target the existing teaching force and future teachers as well as the working conditions needed to support high quality math and science teaching.

Math and science are critical to economic health.

“We as a nation must take immediate action to improve the quality of math and science teaching in every classroom in this country. If we delay, we put at risk our continued economic growth and future scientific discovery,” former Senator John Glenn, chairman of the Commission. “Here we outline a workable, balanced strategy that builds on what has been learned in the last decade, improves teaching, and thereby improves student achievement.”

“Before it’s too late”

The report, entitled Before It’s Too Late, sets three goals and action strategies for meeting those goals. They are:

Goal 1:
Establish an ongoing system to improve the quality of mathematics and science teaching in grades K-12. Seven interdependent action strategies are suggested by the commission:

Improvement in math and science teaching requires a coordinated system.
  • Each state must immediately undertake a full needs assessment to determine what teachers require to deliver high-quality teaching.

  • Summer Institutes must be established to address professional development needs.

  • Local professional Inquiry Groups should be formed to provide venues for teachers to enrich their subject knowledge and teaching skills.

  • Leadership Training is needed to prepare facilitators for the Summer Institutes and Inquiry Groups.

  • A dedicated Internet Portal must be available to teachers so they can have access to and contribute to the knowledge base about mathematics and science teaching.

  • A nongovernmental Coordinating Council is needed to bring together the above initiatives and to assess accomplishments.

  • All states and local districts should initiate reward and incentive programs to support exemplary professional development and to increase the attractiveness of teaching as a profession.

Goal 2:
Increase significantly the number of mathematics and science teachers and improve the quality of their preparation. The commission identified three action strategies to reach this goal:

America needs more math and science teachers.
  • a direct strategy that identifies exemplary models of teacher preparation whose success can be widely replicated

  • an overarching strategy to attract additional qualified candidates into teaching

  • creating 15 competitively selected Mathematics and Science Teaching Academies to train 3,000 recent graduates or persons at mid-career with degrees in math and science who will be nationally recruited for a one-year, intensive course on effective teaching methods

Goal 3:
Improve the working environment and make the teaching profession more attractive for K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The four action strategies identified to reach this goal are:

Teachers need better resources and incentives.
  • induction programs to help acclimate beginning mathematics and science teachers to the profession, create formal mentoring relationships, and introduce teachers to Inquiry Groups

  • district/business partnerships to enhance teaching by providing materials, facilities, equipment, and mentor stipends

  • incentives to encourage mathematics and science teachers to remain in teaching and improve their skills

  • more competitive salaries for all teachers, but especially for mathematics and science teachers

Conclusion: Public activism can help improve the quality of education.

Educational challenge

The report concludes by challenging all Americans directly to take personal responsibility for expressing their views on mathematics and science education to policy and decision-makers, and to take the initiative to implement the report’s goals in their own communities. “It is imperative to move swiftly. Two-thirds of the nation’s teachers will leave their positions over the next decade giving us an unprecedented opportunity for improvement,” said Senator Glenn.

The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century (known as the Glenn Commission) was established by the U.S. Secretary of Education. The 25-member commission is comprised of top leaders in education, business, and government. Chaired by astronaut and former Senator John Glenn, the Commission was charged with creating an action strategy to improve the quality of teaching in mathematics and science at all grades nationwide. Joining Senator Glenn was a diverse and talented group of 32 individuals chosen for their broad expertise and ability to help implement the recommendations that emerged from the deliberations. These stakeholders in math and science teaching included business and education leaders; public officials at the federal, national, state, and local levels; and teachers of mathematics and science.

Math & Science Teaching in the New Millennium

Before It’s Too Late: A Report to the Nation

A free copy of the report described above in “Math & Science Teaching in the New Millennium” can be either ordered or downloaded at:

Report background papers

Four background papers were commissioned by The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century to explore particular areas of interest in mathematics and science education. All four papers are available online at:

  1. Turnover Among Math and Science Teachers in the U.S., by Richard M. Ingersoll, summarizes the rates of, and reasons for, teacher turnover, including mathematics and science teachers. Data presented indicate that school-staffing difficulties primarily result from a “revolving door.” Ingersoll argues that teacher recruitment programs will not solve school staffing problems unless they address the problem of teacher retention.

  2. Teacher Leadership: An Appealing and Inescapable Force in School Reform?, by Brian Lord and Barbara Miller, suggests that teacher leadership is essential to the reform of mathematics, science and technology teaching. The paper also points out that the profession lacks a comprehensive view of what teacher leadership is, how it works, and whether and how well it can be harnessed to improve teaching.

  3. More Swimming, Less Sinking - - Perspectives on Teacher Induction in the U.S. and Abroad by Edward Britton, Senta Raizen, Lynn Paine, & Mary Ann Huntley, reports that a major reason that significant numbers of new mathematics and science teachers leave the profession is job dissatisfaction. They propose that strategies need to be developed to reach every novice teacher through induction programs.

  4. Increasing the Number of Mathematics and Science Teachers: A Review of Teacher Recruitment Programs, by Dr. Beatriz Chu Clewell and Laurie B. Forcier, describes and evaluates the effectiveness of recruitment strategies that have been used in the past, and those that could be used in the future, to reduce the shortage of mathematics and science teachers.

U.S. Department of Education

News, articles, teacher and parent resources, grant information, and much more.

Read a report

“Technology Counts 2004” is a report that provides an overview of technology in schools around the world, examining developments in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Read a synopsis of the 2009 report:

Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE)

CIESE helps educators exploit the power of technology to improve instruction and to bolster student achievement in mathematics and science.

National Institute for Science Education (NISE)

NISE conducts research and evaluations to encourage systemic reform and improve teacher development in math, science, engineering, and technology education.

CIESE Online Classroom Projects

Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at Stevens Institute of Technology “sponsors and designs interdisciplinary projects that teachers can use to enhance their curriculum through use of the Internet.”

For educators/researchers: science events database

“A free, fully searchable, multi-disciplinary scientific events database” including conferences on zoology conferences, biotechnology, pharmacology, and biotechnology. “Browse events, order brochures, register and purchase proceedings papers online.”

This site offers a variety of resources for teachers, including:


Understanding Science