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March 16, 1998

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We must strengthen math and science education so that a new generation can unlock the opportunities of the 21st century. In my balanced budget, I've proposed a comprehensive strategy to make our schools the best in the world. We must have high, national standards of academic achievement and national tests in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math. And we must strengthen math instruction in our middle schools.

- President Bill Clinton
March 16, 1998

Today, President Clinton meets with leaders from the government, business, education and scientific communities to discuss the recent 12th grade Third International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) results. At the meeting the President issues a set of challenges to the nation to improve student achievement and announces new educational on-line resources for parents, students and teachers.

Providing Solutions To Address Our Education Challenges Recent TIMSS results show that while U.S. 4th graders are near the first in the world in science and above average in math, U.S. 12th graders lag below the international average in both subjects. These results demonstrate the importance of President Clinton's education agenda, including his proposals for:

  • national standards and tests in reading and math;
  • smaller classes with well-prepared teachers;
  • modern school buildings;
  • educational Opportunity Zones to end social promotion and fix failing schools;
  • technologically advanced schools; and
  • "High Hopes" mentoring to encourage students to take tough classes and prepare for college.

Reducing Out-Of-Field Teaching. Today, nearly one out of every five science teachers, more than a quarter of all math teachers, and more than half of all physics teachers have neither majored nor minored in the subjects they teach. President Clinton challenges states and school districts to reduce the percentage of math and science teachers without a major or minor in their subject area.

Testing New Teachers. During the next several years, nearly half our nation's teaching force will be replaced in order to accommodate growing student enrollments and an aging teaching force. Raising standards of teaching now can boost the quality of our schools for decades. President Clinton challenges states to require all new teachers of math and science to pass challenging tests of math or science knowledge and teaching proficiency.

Calling Our Communities To Action: Schools, Students And Parents. Today, only 25% of U.S. students take algebra before high school, and only 25% of U.S. high school students take physics before graduating. President Clinton challenges schools to offer -- and students to take -- tough math and science courses throughout middle school and high school. To help parents have a way of finding out how their children do compared to the international standards in TIMSS, the President challenges parents to insist that school districts provide ways of showing how children are doing compared to national standards and international benchmarks.

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