three countries recruit 100 percent of their teacher corps from the top third of their college graduate academic cohort, then screen for other important qualities as well. By contrast, in the United States only 23 percent of new K-12 teachers come from the top third, and in high poverty schools, the fraction is only 14 percent. The report concludes that Finland, Singapore, and South Korea “use a rigorous selection process and teacher training more akin to medical school and residency than a typical American school of education.” It goes on to examine what an American version of a “top third” strategy might entail and concludes that “if the U.S. is to close its achievement gap with the world’s best education systems—and ease its own socio-economic disparities—a top-third strategy for the teaching profession must be a part of the debate.” Undoubtedly, a part of closing this gap must address the situation that most teachers of mathematics and science in U.S. public middle and high schools do not have degrees or other certification in mathematics or science.31
While, as noted above, the current study does not have a mandate to examine the broad question of K-12 mathematics education, the mathematical sciences community does have a clear interest in those precollege students with special talent for and interest in mathematics and statistics. Such students may very well go on to become future leaders of the research community, and in many cases they are ready to learn from active researchers while still in high school, or even earlier.
A 2010 paper32 reported on two studies into the relationship between precollegiate advanced/enriched educational experiences and adult accomplishments in STEM fields. In the first of these studies, 1,467 13-year-olds were identified as mathematically talented on the basis of scores of at least 500 on the mathematics section of the Scholastic Assessment Test, which puts them in the top 0.5 percentile. Their developmental trajectories were studied over 25 years, with particular attention being paid to accomplishments in STEM fields, such as scholarly publications, Ph.D. attainment, tenure, patents, and types of occupation(s) over the period. The second study profiled, retrospectively, the adolescent advanced/enriched educational
31 NRC, 2010, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
32 Jonathan Wai, David Lubenski, Camilla Benbow, and James Steiger, 2010, Accomplishment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and its relation to STEM educational dose: A 25-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology 102 (4).