By Edna O. Schack
In the early 2000s, mathematics education in Kentucky was at a crossroads, literally. Two legislators were interested in improving mathematics achievement at all levels, kindergarten through adult education, and each presented a bill for consideration by the Kentucky Legislature.
The catch was that the two legislators had different, almost conflicting ideas on how this should be accomplished. If it weren’t for Bill Bush, an influential professor of mathematics education at the University of Louisville, the Commonwealth might be like any other state in its approach to mathematics achievement.
Bush, however, had a vision. To achieve that vision, he gathered the key supporters of each bill and began to encourage them to cobble their thinking together, convincing them that there would be no bill if they did not work together. Bush’s vision endured and today, Kentucky may be the only state in the nation with a committee legislated “to have the ongoing responsibility for providing advice and guidance to policymakers in the development of statewide policies and in the allocation of resources to improve mathematics achievement.” (See KRS 158.842)
For the past 11 years, the Kentucky Committee for Mathematics Achievement (CMA) has addressed a wide variety of issues. The initial years saw the development of a four-pronged strategic plan that addressed student achievement as well as teacher development.
One of the original charges to the CMA was to define the criteria for the establishment of the Kentucky Center for Mathematics (KCM), a highly successful center housed at Northern Kentucky University. KCM professional learning experiences have provided training in effective mathematics instruction and appropriate intervention strategies to thousands of Kentucky teachers, coaches and administrators. In addition to supporting children in their schools, these trained educators also provide leadership and professional development to their colleagues.
For more details about the purpose and membership KCM, visit the Kentucky Committee for Mathematics Achievement website. And look for more news about CMA’s activities and strategic plan in future editions of Kentucky Teacher.
Edna O. Schack has been a member of the Committee for Mathematics Achievement since its inception, representing Morehead State University. She is a professor of p-5 mathematics education and co-director of MSUTeach.