Public Release: 

President Clinton Names Outstanding Mathematics And Science Teachers

National Science Foundation

President Clinton has named 208 teachers to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the nation's highest honor for mathematics and science teaching in elementary and secondary schools.

"In winning this award, these teachers have achieved the equivalent of a winning three-point shot in the final seconds of the NBA championship playoffs," said Rita Colwell, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which administers the award. "Excellence in math and science teaching shapes our children's intellectual development, strengthens our educational system, and advances the national goal to vastly improve the education of our children. We owe it to the students to cherish and honor their best teachers."

Teachers nominated for this award go through a rigorous review process ending with White House approval from the President and the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Dr. Neal Lane. Awardees are selected on the basis of the excellence of their teaching, leadership abilities, continuing education activities and dedication as teachers.

The award winners will be given a presidential citation, and their schools will receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $7,500 to be used under the direction of the awardee over a five-year period. Awardees will also be honored during an event in Washington, D.C., June 6-12, 1999.

Established in 1983 by the White House and administered by NSF, this annual award is given to up to 216 elementary and secondary school teachers representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories and the U.S. Department of Defense school system.


Editors: A searchable list of the awardees is available on the web at:

Statement by Rita Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation.
Fact Sheet on PAEMST
Key Findings of the PAEMST Survey

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Statement by


Regarding 1998 Winners of Presidential Award
For Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

I want to congratulate the 208 winners of the 1998 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching on receiving the nation's highest honor for K-12 teachers. These teachers' effective classrooms in mathematics and science are a model for all who are working to improve the prospects of our children's future prosperity.

Every year the Presidential award creates the local equivalent of a math and science education "celebrity" within hundreds of school districts. Nationally known math and science teaching celebrities such as Bill Nye the Science Guy, Stephen Hawking, and the late Carl Sagan are familiar to our children and admired by them. Our society cherishes these notable figures for their work and devotion to math and science. Even the fictional Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus educational science program is enthusiastically invited into the homes of tens of thousands of young children as part of their weekly television fare.

A teacher's receipt of the Presidential award helps link him or her to these national celebrities. This Presidential award establishes these teachers as national role models for educators to emulate, for students to admire, and for parents, administrators, and communities to nurture. Few life influences are more powerful in forming the social and intellectual development of a child than a role model such as an outstanding teacher.

Our nation's mathematics and science teachers are the primary sources of our children's learning in these subjects, but everyday our students learn about these subjects in subtle ways from many other sources. They learn about the value we as a society place on math and science by virtue of the respect, attention, and esteem we bestow upon mathematicians, scientists, and teachers through our social institutions and culture. The Presidential award clearly tells our students that our nation values their teacher's work, devotion, and commitment. We value their teacher's knowledge of math and science, but we also value their unique talent for conveying that knowledge to the next generation of mathematicians, engineers, and scientists. The award conveys these values to educational administrators, parents, and their local communities.

The performance of our teachers today largely defines the quality of our nation's future intellectual infrastructure and will have a direct impact on the quality of life and health of our children. Cultivating and recognizing exemplary math and science teachers is a commitment we at NSF will continue to make.



Presidential Awards for Excellence
In Mathematics and Science Teaching

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the nation's highest commendation for K-12 math and science teachers. It recognizes a combination of sustained and exemplary work, both in, and outside of, the classroom. Each award includes a grant of $7,500 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the recipient's school. Awardees use the money at their discretion to promote math and science education. They also receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., during which each receives a citation signed by the President. Awardees also attend seminars and engage in professional discussions with their peers and with national legislators and education policy-makers. Each awardee also receives a selection of gifts from private-sector contributors to the program.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What are the PAEMST selection criteria?

A. The program is open to practicing public-, private-, and parochial-school teachers with a minimum of five years of experience. Candidates are then chosen on the basis of their teaching performance, their background, and their experience. This includes an evaluation of their formal education and continuing educational experience as well as professional and other activities related to their teaching. Applicants are asked to demonstrate how their teaching enables students to learn important math and science processes and concepts and to give examples of how they assess student learning. They must also provide letters of support for their application from colleagues; current or former students; parents of current or former students; or their supervisors.

Q. How are recipients selected?

A. Awardees are selected from those eligible teachers who have completed an application, obtained from NSF or from the science or math coordinator at their state education department. Applicants provide documentation of their background and evidence of professional success to state selection committees of their peers.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) oversees state selection procedures in math, and the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) oversees those in science.

The committees choose six math teachers (three elementary, three secondary) and six science teachers (three elementary, three secondary). These 12 state-level finalists are recognized by the national program and in their individual states or political jurisdictions. All 12 of these teachers are candidates for the presidential award. One science and one math teacher at each level are recommended as presidential awardees by a national selection committee of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators. The White House makes the official announcement.

Q. What are the citizenship requirements for nominees?

A. Applicants must be U.S. citizens who teach in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Dependent Schools, or the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas, or the Virgin Islands.

Q. When was PAEMST established?

A. Former President Ronald Reagan signed into law a measure establishing the program in 1983 (P.L. 98-377). The law was amended in 1988 to include elementary teachers (P.L. 100-570). The teacher enhancement program of NSF's Division of Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education administers the program for the White House.

Q. How many recipients are honored this year?

A. There are 102 elementary and 106 secondary recipients this year chosen from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Department of Defense schools, and the U.S. territories.

For more information, contact: Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Directorate for Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230; tel.: 703-306-0422;



In 1996, Horizon Research, Inc., surveyed 930 past winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), comparing them with a random national sample of 2,065 elementary math and science teachers. Some of the salient differences listed here reveal dramatic differences especially in teaching style and professional development:

PAEMST teachers rely far less than their peers on textbooks in their teaching;

Only 17 percent of Presidential award-winning science teachers and 22 percent of award-winning math teachers of grades 1-6 said they consider textbooks a "major influence" on what they teach. By contrast, 59 percent of the national sample of science teachers and 79 percent of math teachers overall felt that way.

PAEMST teachers are more academically prepared in their subjects;

Among award-winning teachers, more than 40 percent of science and 36 percent of math teachers either hold a degree or a college minor in their respective fields, compared with only 7 percent of the national sample of teachers.

PAEMST teachers devote far more time to lifelong learning and professional activities;

More than 75 percent of award-winning math and science teachers spent at least 35 hours in in-service education within the past three years, compared with just 12 percent of the national comparison group. And awardees were roughly nine times more likely to take part in professional activities such as attending professional association meetings or teaching outside workshops or courses for other teachers.

PAEMST teachers feel far more competent in their work than most teachers;

Seventy-two percent of science awardees said they have "strong control" in setting curricular goals and objectives, compared with 30 percent of their peers. Strong majorities of math and science awardees also said they have strong control over selecting instructional material, teaching techniques, and the pace of lessons.

PAEMST teachers tend to use more advanced classroom tools and techniques;

An overwhelming 93 percent of award-winning math teachers said they were well aware of the NCTM standards, compared to the national sample's 10 percent. Award-winners indicated they were more inclined than their peers to integrate math and science with other subjects. They were also much more likely to endorse the use of computers and calculators, and emphasize hands-on learning, problem-solving and reasoning over rote exercises or standardized tests.

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