The Michigan Science and Mathematics Alliance (MiSMA) is a statewide alliance composed of education, business, government, and community leaders working to reform mathematics and science education throughout the state of Michigan. MiSMA grew out of a five-year education reform project called the Michigan Statewide Systemic Initiative (MSSI), which was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. At the conclusion of MSSI, MiSMA emerged as an independent, non-profit organization and assumed leadership for building the infrastructure required to improve mathematics and science learning for all Michigan students.
MiSMA's mission is to promote high quality science and mathematics teaching and learning for all Michigan students. Its goals are to promote alignment of local curricula, instruction, and assessment with state standards; build collaboration within the educational system to support high quality mathematics and science education infused with technology; reduce the gap in science and mathematics learning among Michigan students; involve parents, business and industry leaders, and community organizations in improving the quality of mathematics and science education; and measure and report on the status of mathematics, science, and technology education in Michigan
In addition to an Executive Committee composed of Board officers and key staff, the Board has five standing committees: Mathematics/Science/Technology (MST), Communications, Development, Nominating, and Finance.
The MST Committee is composed of mathematicians, scientists, educators, and community leaders. Its role is to identify issues, provide expert advice, draft position papers, make recommendations, and take action on behalf of the Board of Directors. In organizing this work, the Committee has convened six Action Teams focused on specific themes: engaging the public; quality teacher preparation from recruitment to induction; strengthening K-12/higher education connections; student assessment; building individual capacity; and using technology in the mathematics and science classroom
Under the K-12/higher education action team umbrella, Roger Verhey (UM-Dearborn) and Tim Husband (SHU) have been organizing Building Bridges sessions. This year, Building Bridges sessions were held at the Michigan Section meeting at CMU on May 6, in Lansing on August 1, and at the MCTM meeting in Lansing on October 20. Primary topics at these meetings have been calculus in high school and placement exams. The goal is to develop position statements on these issues that are collaborative efforts of high school and college teachers and that can be supported by MCTM and the Michigan Section.
At the August 1 meeting it was decided that a statement that included a recommendation of AP Calculus in high schools for those students who were academically ready would be appropriate. Furthermore, it was decided that the statement needed to include the belief that calculus is not "the" pinnacle mathematics course. There are many equally viable courses that might be offered the fourth year that are as good as, or possibly better than, calculus.
The matter of college and university placement tests continues to present a challenge. A document entitled "Statement on Competencies in Mathematics Expected of Entering College Students", from the Inter-segmental Committee of the Academic Senates of the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California, addresses the general question of what important mathematics competencies are necessary for success in the "first year" of college level mathematics. This paper describes mathematical areas of focus that are essential for all entering college students, desirable for all entering college students, essential for all college students to be adequately prepared for quantitative majors, or desirable for college students who intend quantitative majors. Such a proactive stance regarding mathematical competencies for college freshman might serve as a good starting point for future discussions and consensus building within and among colleges in the state.
It was noted that some institutions report back to high schools the success of their students in their first college mathematics courses. The reporting mechanism seems to vary from institution to institution. It was suggested that a uniform instrument could be designed that would convey important information back to high school teachers.
Matt Wyneken, Michigan Section MiSMA Representative
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