Elementary and secondary mathematics and science education
U.S. education reform at the elementary and secondary levels continues to focus on improving students’ learning. Reform goals include increasing student achievement, reducing performance gaps between students in different demographic groups, and raising the international ranking of U.S. students from the middle to the top on international tests (The White House n.d.).1 Although policymakers have remained committed to these goals, strategies and efforts to promote them have shifted over time. Most recently, the federal government has given states seeking to meet these goals more flexibility by granting them waivers from the stringent standards required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).2 In exchange for the waivers, the states agreed to undertake essential reforms to raise standards, improve accountability, and enhance teacher effectiveness (U.S. Department of Education 2012a). In addition, the federal government created the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant program, inviting states to voluntarily participate in this program designed to promote state-led reform efforts (U.S. Department of Education 2009, 2011). Through grant competition, RTTT encourages states and local school districts to design and implement their own reform plans to address their unique educational challenges (see sidebar, “Race to the Top”).