Projects in Quantitative Literacy

(Working Draft, 06/27/99)


An inventory of projects and programs, present and past, operating in support of quantitative literacy (or numeracy, as it is sometimes called). Links point to sources of additional information. Comments, corrections, and additions are welcome by e-mail to Lynn A. Steen. (QL Home Page)


Adult Numeracy Network (ANN). An organization of administrators, government officials and others formed in 1994 to support adult numeracy education. Now an affiliate of NCTM, ANN manages the e-mail Numeracy List that is archived in the Mathematics Forum at Swarthmore College. (Formerly called the Adult Numeracy Practitioners Network.)

Adult Numeracy Project. A project of the National Center for Adult Literacy at the University of Pennsylvania that, among other things, helped launch the Adult Numeracy Network. Former Director: Iddo Gal.

Adults Learning Maths (ALM). An international research forum for researchers and practitioners who aim to promote mathematical learning in adults. The July 1998 conference in Utrecht is a source of additional information.

Beyond Eighth Grade. A project of the National Center for Research on Vocational Education (NCRVE) to connect the mathematical expectations of industry with those of the academic community. Details can be found in the report of a 1997 workshop and in a proposal for greater emphasis on functional mathematics in high school.

Campaign for Economic Literacy. An "ambitious" effort to significantly increase economic literacy "much like the national campaign already well underway for reading literacy." Goals: To insure that economic literacy becomes a priority in the national education agenda; that standards-based economic education is effectively taught at every grade in every school; and that all American children have the economic skills and understanding they will need as workers, consumers, investors, and citizens. Sponsored by the National Council on Economic Education (Telephone: 212-730-7007; E-mail: <>).

Case Studies in Real World Mathematics. An effort at Leiden University (Netherlands) to interest students in mathematics by means of case studies on social and legal issues such as airline management, patent law, regulatory affairs, and investment in new product development. Project Directors: Frans A. J. Birrer, University of Leiden and Sheila Tobias, University of Arizona.

Curriculum Assessment Service National Database. A database of transcript information for over 42,000 students from a random sample of 100 U.S. colleges for 1991 baccalaureate recipients in liberal arts and sciences. Sample finding from the data: A "large minority" of college graduates never ventured into the mathematical or natural sciences. Contact: Nancy Conlon <> at the Science Resources Studies Division of the National Science Foundation.

Defining and Measuring Quantitative Literacy. A study undertaken by the College Board to define quantitative literacy and determine the extent to which the various College Board tests reflect the different aspects of quantitative literacy. Contact: John Dossey <>.

Developing Mathematical Thinking. A proposed project of BBN intended to develop units for three neglected topics in middle school mathematics that help students reason about everyday situations from real life: indirect counting (combinatorics), approximation and estimation, and quantitative reasoning. Project Director: Wally Feurzig. [Note: Project may never have been undertaken.]

Family Math. A program operated by the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California at Berkeley that enlists family members in helping children improve their mathematical skills. See also the publication Family Math(1986).

International Life Skills Survey (ILLS). A comparative survey planned for 2001 being developed jointly by Statistics Canada, OECD, and the National Center for Educaton Statistics (NCES) in the United States. Intended as a follow-up to the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) reported in Literacy, Economy, and Society(OECD, 1995).

Life By the Numbers. Seven made-for TV videos produced by WQED in Pittsburgh in 1998 on the role of mathematics in society, including special effects, sports, biology, probability, exploration, information, and education. Supported by a Life by the Numbers website as well as by an accompanying book of the same title written by by Keith Devlin.

Literacy Policy Forum. A workshop entitled "Do American Workers Count? Numeracy for the Workforce" sponsored by the National Center on Adult in Washington, DC on October 14, 1994.

Mathematics Competency Requirements in Michigan Higher Education. Report of a survey of two- and four-year colleges in Michigan concerning graduation requirements in mathematics, including information on graduation credits, faculty, pedagogy, calculator use, and assessment.

National Center for Educational Statistics. A collection of databases available for research on curriculum and educational issues, including the National Education Longitudinal Study, High School and Beyond, and Baccalaureate and Beyond. Contact: Samuel Peng (Telephone: 202-219-1623).

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). A project of OECD, PISA is, as part of its work, developing an international framework for assessing mathematical literacy, which they define obliquely and than analyse in terms of various dimensions, aspects, competencies, and skills. Tom Romberg <> of the University of Wisconsin is the U.S. representative on the PISA Mathematics Functional Expert Group which is in charge of the mathematics framework.

Quantitative Literacy Project. A decade-long joint project of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). A summary of some results of this project appear in An Activity Based Statistics Course which appeared in the Journal of Statistics Education (Vol 5, No.2, 1997).

Subcommittee on Quantitative Literacy. A committee of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) that gathers information on college-level quantitative literacy and sponsors sessions at national MAA meetings to showcase innovative courses and programs.

QL Home Page
Last Update: 26 June 1999
Contact: Lynn Arthur Steen
Copyright © 1999.