A new paper at The De Morgan Gazette:
A. Borovik, Mathematics for teachers of mathematics, The De Morgan Gazette 10 no. 2 (2018), 11-25. bit.ly/2NWECtn
The paper contains a sketch of a BSc Hons degree programme Mathematics (for
Mathematics Education). It can be seen as a comment on Gardiner (2018) where
he suggests that the current dire state of mathematics education in England cannot
be improved without an improved structure for the preparation and training of
Effective preparation and training requires a limited number of national institutional units, linked as part of a national effort, and subject to central guidance. For recruitment and provision to be efficient and effective, each unit should deal with a significant number of students in each area of specialism (say 20–100). In most systems the initial period of preparation tends to be either
- a “degree programme” of 4–5 years (e.g. for primary teachers), with substantial subject-specific elements, or
- an initial specialist, subject-based degree (of 3+ years), followed by (usually 2 years) of pedagogical and didactical training, with some school experience.
This paper suggests possible content, and didactic principles, of
a new kind of “initial specialist, subject-based degree” designed for intending teachers.
This text is only a proof of concept; most details are omitted; those that are given
demonstrate, I hope, that a new degree would provide a fresh and vibrant approach
to education of future teachers of mathematics.
A new paper at The De Morgan Gazette:
A. D. Gardiner, Towards an effective national structure for teacher preparation and support in mathematics, The De Morgan Gazette 10 no. 1 (2018), 1-10. bit.ly/2N9NU7W
The fragmented, learn-on-the-job English model for ITE is not working.
About this there is little dispute. We analyse why such a system cannot
possibly work for mathematics teaching. We also suggest the need for an improved national framework for teacher preparation and development, based on a limited number of specialist centres, which accumulate expertise over time, and through which planned programmes might be effectively delivered.
The famous geneticist James Watson, of the double helix fame, about his relations with mathematics:
All through my undergraduate days I worried that my limited mathematical talents might keep me from being more than a naturalist. In deciding to go for the gene, whose essence was surely in its molecular properties, there seemed no choice but to tackle my weakness head-on. Not only was math at the heart of virtually all physics, but the forces at work in three-dimensional molecular structures could not be described except with math. Only by taking higher math courses would I develop sufficient comfort to work at the leading edge of my field, even if I never got near the leading edge of math. And so my Bs in two genuinely tough math courses were worth far more in confidence capital than any A I would likely have received in a biology course, no matter how demanding. Though I would never use the full extent of the analytical methods I had learned, the Poisson distribution analyses needed to do most phage experiments soon became satisfying instead of a source of crippling anxiety.
[From J. D. Watson, Avoid Boring People, Vintage Books, New York, 2010, p. 51]
Yesterday, 4 September 2018, UKRI announced their
Plan S: Accelerating the transition to full and immediate Open Access to scientific publications
Since the LMS critcally depends on income from publishing, it has serious implications for out Society.
The key principle of the Plan is as follows:
“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”
- Authors retain copyright of their publication with no restrictions. All publications must be published under an open license, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution Licence CC BY. In all cases, the license applied should fulfil the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration;
- The Funders will ensure jointly the establishment of robust criteria and requirements for the services that compliant high quality Open Access journals and Open Access platforms must provide;
- In case such high quality Open Access journals or platforms do not yet exist, the Funders will, in a coordinated way, provide incentives to establish and support them when appropriate; support will also be provided for Open Access infrastructures where necessary;
- Where applicable, Open Access publication fees are covered by the Funders or universities, not by individual researchers; it is acknowledged that all scientists should be able to publish their work Open Access even if their institutions have limited means;
- When Open Access publication fees are applied, their funding is standardised and capped (across Europe);
- The Funders will ask universities, research organisations, and libraries to align their policies and strategies, notably to ensure transparency;
- The above principles shall apply to all types of scholarly publications, but it is understood that the timeline to achieve Open Access for monographs and books may be longer than 1 January 2020;
- The importance of open archives and repositories for hosting research outputs is acknowledged because of their long-term archiving function and their potential for editorial innovation;
- The `hybrid’ model of publishing is not compliant with the above principles;
- The Funders will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance.
This Report from Education Policy Institute made news today: BBC, The Guardian, The Independent. PDF File.
Some of key findings (edited with focus on mathematics):
Teacher shortages and other pressures
- Pupil numbers have risen by around 10 % since 2010 – while teacher numbers have remained steady. This means that pupil-to-teacher ratios have risen from around 15.5 in 2010 to nearly 17 by 2018.
- Teacher training applications are down by 5%, while training targets have been persistently missed in maths and science.
- Exit rates have also increased, and are particularly high early on in teachers’ careers. Only 60% of teachers remained in state-funded schools five years after starting. For ‘high-priority’ subjects like physics and maths, this 5-year retention drops to just 50%.
- Teacher pay has declined by about 10 % in real-terms since 2010 – but the recent announcement of pay rises of up to 3.5 % from September 2018 will halt this real-terms decline.
- With many able to earn more outside of teaching, England faces a great challenge recruiting new graduates. In maths, average graduate salaries are £4,000 above those of teachers.
Highly-qualified teachers: variations by subject
Levels of teacher quality in secondary schools vary considerably depending on the subject:
- Maths and most science subjects in particular struggle to attract highly-qualified teachers – with as little as half of teachers holding a relevant degree. Under 50% hold a relevant degree in maths and physics. These subjects, with the lowest proportion of highly-qualified teachers, are also those with the greatest recruitment and retention problems. […]
Highly-qualified teachers: London and the rest of England
There are stark differences in how highly-qualified teachers are represented in the most, and least deprived schools in England (at KS4). The socio-economic gap is much greater outside of London:
- In areas outside of London, just over a third (37%) of maths teachers […] in the poorest schools had a relevant degree. In more affluent schools outside of London, the proportions are far higher for maths (51%) and chemistry (68%). […]
In London, differences in how highly-qualified teachers are represented are far smaller:
- In maths, the proportion of teachers with a degree ranges between 40-50% for all schools, regardless of deprivation level […]
Tackling teacher shortages: introduce financial incentives
- There is strong evidence that providing salary supplements to teachers in some subjects would alleviate shortages – such as in maths and science.
- Schools in England are able to make such payments already – however, they would have to be drawn from existing budgets, which would present financial challenges.
- The government should therefore consider a national salary supplement scheme, centrally funded and directed by the Department for Education.
- Bonus payments of £5,000 for maths teachers are currently being trialled – yet this programme is limited in scope, and the pilot process may be lengthy. It also fails to target many local authorities that are the most in need of highly-qualified teachers.
- Given the scale and severity of shortages in the teacher labour market, and the known links between teacher quality and pupil outcomes, the government should introduce salary supplements in hard-to-staff areas and subjects without delay.
“Universities are essentially massaging the figures”: this assessment by an unnamed expert is quoted in the short on-line version of the report A degree of uncertainty: an investigation into grade inflation in universities from Reform, a UK think-tank. A fuller quote:
There is considerable evidence to suggest that ‘degree algorithms’ (which translate the marks achieved by students during their degree into a final classification) are contributing to grade inflation. Approximately half of universities have changed their degree algorithms in the last five years “to ensure that they do not disadvantage students in comparison with those in similar institutions”. Research has also identified serious concerns about how these algorithms treat ‘borderline’ cases where a student’s overall mark is close to the boundary of a better degree classification. One expert concluded that “universities are essentially massaging the figures, they are changing the algorithms and putting borderline candidates north of the border”.
The story was picked by the mass media: The Times, BBC
This paper contains some bizarre observations:
Michela Braga, Marco Paccagnella, Michele Pellizzari, Evaluating students’ evaluations of professors. Economics of Education Review 41 (214) 71-88.
Abstract: This paper contrasts measures of teacher effectiveness with the students’ evaluations for the same teachers using administrative data from Bocconi University. The effectiveness measures are estimated by comparing the performance in follow-on coursework of students who are randomly assigned to teachers. We find that teacher quality matters
substantially and that our measure of effectiveness is negatively correlated with the students’ evaluations of professors. A simple theory rationalizes this result under the assumption that students evaluate professors based on their realized utility, an assumption that is supported by additional evidence that the evaluations respond to