« AnteriorContinuar »
members of the fastest growing minority group in the United States, and scientific and technological illiterates.
I thank you for the opportunity to share our views in how our schools can be assisted-of assistance to you.
Thank you, Senator.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DONALD D. GAINEY
My name is Donald Gainey.
I am the President of the Rhode Island
Association of School Principals and a member of the National Association
of Secondary School Principals.
As president of the RIASP, I represent
both elementary and secondary school administrators in the private and
public sectors of the State of Rhode Island.
I am particularly pleased
to testify before you today for two reasons.
First, in speaking on behalf
of the RIASP and the NASSP, I have the opportunity to testify before the
Honorable Senator Claiborne Pell from my home state, who has always been
recognized as a true champion of education, and an individual who is res
pected for his leadership in this field on the national level.
have an opportunity to address an issue that both the RIASP and the NASSP
feel is critical on both the regional and national levels.
focus of the problem may be different from region to region, the rapid and
ever changing impact that technological advances have made on industry and
the economy have dictated a national concern with regard to math and science
instruction at all levels of our educational process.
The solutions to our problems are not simple. However, we submit that
steps to improve the current state of affairs lie in our educational insti
tutions and, more specifically, upon the sound foundation built in our
elementary and secondary schools.
Greater efforts in the recruitment and
retention of qualified teachers, as well as the development of methods and
materials to deliver stronger mathematics and science instruction at the
elementary and secondary levels, must begin immediately.
Before I develop more fully our potential solutions to this problem,
I would like to mention some alarming statistics which we feel will point
to the critical nature of the problem both in the State of Rhode Island
During the past decade, there has been a marked decline of math and science
In a report based upon 1980 information obtained
from a sample of 1,100 high schools and 28,000 senior graduates, Dr. Paul
Hurd of Stanford University found that while approximately 67 percent of
the seniors completed two years of mathematics, only 34 percent completed
Similar statistics were identified for science, in that
only 44 percent of the graduating students complete two years of science
and 41 percent completed three or more years.
At the same time, the National Science Board Commission on precollege
education •in mathematics, science and technology noted that student
achievement has decreased in mathematics and science as indicated by
declines in the science achievement scores of U.S. 17-year-olds as measured
in three national assessments of science (1969, 1973, and 1977).
scores of 17-year-olds also decreased as measured in two national assessments
(1973, 1978) with the decline in the areas of problem-solfing and applications
of mathematics being especially severe.
On the basis of these findings,
it should not be surprising that the mathematical scores on the Scholastic
Aptitude Test (SAT) stadily declined over an 18-year period through 1980 from
502 to 466.
Furthermore, this problem is more accute in Rhode Island where
the SAT scores are below the national average. Finally, remedial mathematics
enrollments at four-year institutions of higher education increased 72 percent
between 1975 and 1980, while total student enrollments increased by only
With this quantitative data clearly indicating a decline in math and
science instruction, the National Science Board pointed out that among
certified teachers of high school in these disciplines, very few have had
21-390 O - 83 - 38
the formal educational preparation required to provide students with an
understanding of modern technology. Compounding this situation is the
realization that there are few inservice programs or opportunities for
certified mathematics and science teachers to update or broaden their
skills and backgrounds.
Dr. Scott Thomson, Executive Director of the
NASSP, clearly articulated our position regarding this dilemma by stating
that teachers of math and science need opportunities to upgrade their
understanding of the rapidly changing technologies and their use in industry,
for it is at the elementary and secondary levels of a youth's education
that both competence and academic self image take root.
We feel that a reversal of this downward trend in math and science
instruction is essential if our great nation is to remain competitive in
a world of rapidly changing industrial and technological advancements.
key to such a reversal is the classroom teacher.
Yet there is evidence
that there is a severe and growing shortage of mathematics and physical
science teachers in the nations secondary schools.
In a survey including
44 states in 1980, Dr. Hurd revealed that 28 states had a shortage in
mathematics, and in 16 states the situation was listed as critical.
1981-82, 27 states reported a critical shortage of physics teachers and
15 more states reported a shortage. Although Rhode Island, at the present
time, does not appear to have a shortage in these areas, I have personally
noted very few teacher applications in the math and physical science dis
ciplines for my school district.
Additionally, the decline in student teachers in the math and science
areas, which I have witnessed in recent years, tends to substantiate in
Rhode Island the results of a ten-year survey (1971-1980) of 600 colleges
and universities with teacher training programs.
This study revealed a
77 percent decline in the number of secondary school mathematics teachers
being trained and a 65 percent decline in science teachers.
was the fact that of those trained to teach mathematics or science, a
decreasing number to into teaching, choosing business or industry instead.
This unfortunate reality is primarily the result of the economic wage dif
ferentials between school districts and industry.
In the past few years, I have spoken to an increasing number of teachers
who have contemplated or actually made the transition from teaching to industry
based solely upon economics.
I have also witnessed the elimination of the
Future Teachers Club at my school due to declining student interest.
In a recent survey of my senior class of 250 students, only 33 students
indicated an intention of pursuing post-secondary education in the fields of
mathematics or science and none of these students planned to teach.
It would seem apparent then that we must establish local, regional and
national goals and policies which will focus upon the reconstruction of
science and mathematics
Together, the RIASP and the NASSP endorse
national legislation to inspire new blood into our math and science classrooms.
Such legislation must assist school districts in providing training and
retaining of the present elementary and secondary teachers of math and science.
It must enable universities and colleges to provide services to experienced
teachers which broaden their perspectives and the application of math and
science knowledge, and strengthen their teaching skills.
It must enable
school districts to upgrade and modernize their curriculum and provide the
flexibility for the purchase of appropriate equipment, including laboratory
As you know, the NASSP has worked with the supports Rep. Carl
Perkins' bill, H.R. 1310, which provides for these potential solutions.