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Edward A. Silver

Algebra has long been viewed as being a crucial component of American students' mathematics education. In fact, it has been called a “gatekeeper” because the successful completion of an algebra course is a prerequisite not only to further study in mathematics and other school subjects but also to many jobs and later opportunities. Because of the perceived importance of algebra, most American students, who complete high school, study algebra for two years. Nevertheless, the poor performance of twelfthgrade students on many algebra related tasks on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) suggests that enrollment in these courses does not ensure that students acquire mastery of fundamental algebraic ideas (Mullis et al. 1991). Moreover, a lack of algebraic competence among even fairly successful high school graduates is evinced by the large number of remedial mathematics courses offered by the nation's colleges.

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Edward A. Silver

This study examined Krutetskii's claim that high-ability students tend to recall information about the structure of mathematical problems they have solved, whereas low-ability students tend to recall, if anything, information about the problem's context. In general, the results supported Krutetskii's claim. The use of recalled information in the solution of related problems was also examined. A significant transfer effect was found, with respect to both performance and method of solution, from the solution and discussion of one problem to the solution of a structurally related problem.

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Edward A. Silver

Two studies investigated the relationship between students' perceptions of mathematical problem relatedness and their performance on tests of verbal and mathematical ability. A total of 156 eighth-grade students partitioned collections of mathematical verbal problems into disjoint subsets whose problems they judged to be mathematically related. The extent to which a person sorted problems on the basis of mathematical structure was significantly related to the individual's problem-solving ability as well as other mathematical and verbal abilities. Furthermore, partial correlations analysis indicated that the relationship remained significant even when the effects of general ability variables such as IQ were controlled.

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A. Silver Edward

During the past decade, problem solving has emerged as one of the foremost topics of interest in the mathematics education community.

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Edward A. Silver

This issue of the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education is the first that bears my name as editor. There are several different metaphors often used to capture the essence of such transitional moments, and I have included in my title for this editorial one that seems particularly appropriate in relation to a scholarly journal. This issue marks the seventh such “page-turning” transition from one editor to another in the journal's 30-year history.

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Edward A. Silver

In the January 2001 issue, I announced the availability of an electronic version of the JRME Reviewer Information Form (RIF), which can be found at the NCTM Web site (www.nctm.org/jrme/reviewer.htm). Readers of the journal can volunteer to serve as reviewers by completing the RIF, which solicits information about areas of interest and expertise. This electronic form replaces the paper version used in the past. Since January, I have been pleased with the response we have received. Although a few individuals have encountered difficulty with the interface, experienced some confusion about required and optional fields, or been unable to find a category to match adequately their area of expertise, most have found the form easy to complete. Even if you have been a reviewer in the past and have at some time completed a paper form, I urge you to visit the Web site and volunteer as a reviewer. The entire process should only take a few minutes, and it will be time well spent if you wish to assist with manuscript review. The database that is generated from the Web page entries will be used in the future as the primary means of choosing reviewers, gradually supplanting the database that was generated and updated in past years using the paper form.

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Edward A. Silver

The job of JRME editor has many beginnings. January 2001 was one obvious starting point because that was the publication date of the first issue of the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education to bear my name as editor. Yet, according to my letter of appointment, my term as editor began officially one year ago, in May 2000. Moreover, it is also legitimate to view October 1999 as the starting point for my work as editor because that is when I began to handle newly submitted manuscripts. And this issue (Volume 32, Number 3) marks yet another beginning for me as editor; it is the first to contain manuscripts that I have seen through the entire editorial process, from submission and review, through revision, to acceptance and publication.

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Edward A. Silver

One of the least enjoyable aspects of my work as editor is writing decision letters to authors of submitted manuscripts that are not accepted for publication in the journal. Yet, because many more manuscripts submitted to JRME are rejected than are accepted, I find myself often writing letters that include a sentence like the following: “On the basis of my own reading of your manuscript and of the reviews, I have decided not to accept your paper for publication in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education.”

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Edward A. Silver

Typically, the final element in constructing an issue of JRME is my preparation of an editorial. On my “to do” list for September 11, 2001, was the task of writing my overdue editorial for the November 2001 issue. For some time, I had been debating with myself about two possible themes, and I knew that I needed to choose one and send the editorial off to NCTM for publication with the other material slated to appear in November's issue. As you might imagine, the tumult surrounding the tragic events that occurred on September 11 diverted my attention from the editorial, and I was unable to focus attention on it for nearly two weeks. Like so many people I know, I spent much of the time in the immediate aftermath of September 11 in a state of numbness. While rescue workers searched in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, we found ourselves searching for answers and reasons, wondering why we should return to doing what we do and why it might matter.

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Edward A. Silver

As editor, I receive occasional inquiries from prospective authors and reviewers that indicate some misinformation, or at least mistaken impressions, about the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. I thought readers of the journal might be interested to learn about some of these.