(Provided to UGA during application process.)

Securing Advanced Mathematical Literacy for All Students

The primary goal of public education for the past one hundred years has been the development of verbal literacy for all students. If the United States is to maintain its position as a preeminent world power, public education's primary goal for the next one hundred years and beyond must also include advanced mathematical literacy for all students. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics convincingly argues to ensure equitable democratic participation in the technology-driven twenty-first century all students must be equipped with advanced mathematical literacy. To achieve advanced mathematical literacy for all students, math teachers and teacher preparation programs must make changes in mathematics curriculum, instruction, assessment and expectation.

Mathematics curriculum most often presents mathematics as a departmentalized discipline to memorize and duplicate; therefore, understood by only a few. To achieve advanced mathematical literacy for all students, mathematics curriculum must connect the knowledge of mathematics within and across disciplines. Developing a linked curriculum can be obtained while protecting the rigor and integrity of mathematics. Through connecting mathematical knowledge to the world in which students live, students begin to perceive mathematics as a developing body of knowledge with value.

Mathematics instruction most often positions mathematics as a passive participatory discipline-the teacher transmits information while the student passively receives the transmission. To achieve advanced mathematical literacy for all students, mathematics instruction must become actively participatory. Active participation can be generated through interaction from teacher to student, student to teacher, student to student and student to technology. Through actively engaging students in the learning of mathematics, students begin to perceive mathematics as interactive occurrences in their daily lives.

Mathematics assessment most often focuses on the math students know, believing that correct problem solving demonstrates mathematical knowledge. To achieve advanced mathematical literacy for all students, mathematics assessment must determine what students understand about math, not just what they know. Complete assessment should include the traditional 'pencil and paper' test, oral test and quizzes, math projects and portfolios as well as essay questions, allowing the student to demonstrate mathematical knowledge. Through the inclusion of alternative assessment formats, students begin to perceive mathematics as a communicative language used in problem solving.

Mathematics expectation most often relies on the stereotypical concept that has been held for centuries-mathematical success depends on being male; and most often, white. To achieve advanced mathematical literacy for all students, math educators must rid themselves of the old stereotypes and establish high and equal expectations. Students must know that their teachers fundamentally believe that all students are capable of achieving success in advanced mathematics regardless of sex, race, culture, or social economic status. Through eliminating stereotypical ideas about mathematical achievement, students begin to perceive mathematics as an inclusive discipline in which all enjoy success.

Mathematics education will be challenged by these changes. Many math educators believe that 'connecting' math replaces 'rigorous' math, 'interactive' math replaces 'teaching' math, 'assessing' math replaces 'testing' math; and 'inclusive' math replaces 'elitist' math. Change however, does not imply an elimination of the effective methods of the past, but an inclusion of new methodologies for the future. The education, guidance and support given to math teachers by the leadership of mathematics education will determine the success of mathematics education in resolving these challenges.

Earning a Doctor of Philosophy will position me as a leader in math education. My professional plans include conducting educational research in mathematics education while instructing future math educators. I also plan to hold positions at the local and state level in curriculum implementation, culminating with a position at the Federal Department of Education. I will be an integral force in the development of an equitable and excellent public education that includes opportunity to learn advanced mathematics for all students--sustaining the evolution of democracy.

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